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WVU in the News: 'How are we going to keep people alive?' Behind the pandemic, overdoses are rising across West Virginia

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, so does the drug epidemic.

In May 2020, paramedics across West Virginia responded to 923 calls about people suspected of suffering an overdose, a nearly 50% increase over last May and 200 calls more than in any other month in the last two years, according to data from the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy. Emergency room visits for potential overdoses statewide increased last month to 663, which is also the highest number for the last two years.

Overdoses cases are increasing nationwide, said Robin Pollini, a harm reduction expert and associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and School of Public Health. Experts predicted overdose cases would increase as the coronavirus spread.

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