The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control show the number of opioid overdose deaths is higher in Ohio than all but two other states, and the rate of increase is third in the nation as well.
Between June 2016 and 2017, opioid overdose deaths in Ohio rose to 5,200—an increase of 39 percent. The national average is about a third of that, at just 14.4 percent.
Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz says that at the local level, the picture is even more grim.
“Compare the first three quarters of 2017 to the first three quarters of 2016," Ortiz says. "So, an actual comparison day by day—we’ve already seen a 57 percent increase.”
Only Florida and Pennsylvania surpassed Ohio in overall deaths and rate of increase.
"For the entire year of 2016, we had 353 overdoses," Ortiz goes on. "By September, we already outpaced that."
The CDC warns this latest round of data is still provisional, and the final figures could rise further.
Ortiz expects to release her 2017 year-end report in late March or early April, and she believes the final tally in Franklin County could climb past 500.