Winnebago County Board gets updated on county's opioid epidemic - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Winnebago County Board gets updated on county's opioid epidemic

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz says the numbers don't lie, the opioid crisis is in full force.  

"Our county is going through a huge, huge opioid epidemic."

Hintz says according to a major report, about 124 people die from overdoses every day in the United States.  That's equivalent to the casualties from the September 11th attacks every three weeks. 

"As of late, it seems like it's really taken off," says Hintz.  "Our synthetic opioids are just out of control."

One of those synthetic opioids is fentanyl.  Which is being abused at a staggering rate in Winnebago County.   According to Hintz, 7 people died from it last year.  So far this year, that number has skyrocketed to 32. 

"Is this a new problem? Absolutely not," says Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney.  "I think what you're seeing is there's a little more awareness and it seems to be growing.  It's very concerning of course."

Haney says the crisis goes beyond the loss of life. 

"When you look at the impact financially on government, on law enforcement, on first responders a lot of resources go to that, there is a burden of just the epidemic itself."

Haney says raising awareness of what's happening locally is the first step towards making a dent in the epidemic.  From there, the board is exploring how it can play a roll in the fight. 

"A lot of teamwork," says Hintz.  "A lot of different agencies, I've used this analogy many times. It's like a puzzle there's a lot of pieces of that puzzle that come together to make one big picture. Each piece of that puzzle is a different agency that will hopefully come together and try and combat this."

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