As Virginia sees a downward trend in the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, Gov. Ralph Northam said a spike in overdose cases since the start of 2020 remains a concern.
The number of emergency overdose calls that dispatchers in Virginia have responded to in 2020 has already exceeded the total number of similar calls for all of 2019, Northam said Wednesday.
“This is a difficult time for all of us,” he said. “But people who are in recovery from substance use disorder face particular challenges.”
Virginia’s opioid overdose rates had fallen by 15% between 2017 and 2018, and deaths had seen a 12% drop. Early numbers show a similar drop between 2018 and 2019.
Northam said dispatchers in Roanoke County had responded to twice the number of fatal overdoses in the first months of 2020 than in all of 2019.
“While we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of ongoing public health emergencies like the opioid and addiction epidemics,” Northam said.
The governor also gave an update on Virginia’s supply of personal protective equipment. The commonwealth’s supply is well-stocked, Northam said, but he’s still requesting that health care providers source PPE through their private supply-chains before making requests for state assistance.
Virginia is also working with Amazon to ensure that PPE orders are prioritized to health care facilities, Northam added, and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been making shipments of PPE to nursing homes across the state.