Billy Mroczka uses a test strip to find that his meth was laced with fentanyl.
Billy Mroczka uses a test strip to find that his meth was laced with fentanyl. / Photo by Megan Wood

Accidental deaths involving fentanyl are soaring countywide – and San Diego’s homeless population has been hit particularly hard.

Lisa Halverstadt reports that 82 homeless San Diegans died last year during overdoses involving the opioid. That’s a five-fold increase from 2019.

The county Medical Examiner’s Office reports that fentanyl deaths also spiked by more than 200 percent throughout the county from 2019 to 2020.

Now, city and county officials are scrambling to stem the suffering.

On Friday morning, county Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten is set to sign an order allowing lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone to be distributed throughout the county without prescriptions.

County and city officials, including County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Mayor Todd Gloria, say they are determined to deliver additional solutions in coming weeks and months. Fletcher next month is set to encourage fellow board members to approve a new substance abuse strategy aimed at lessening barriers to care while Gloria has pledged a new $1.35 million city investment in treatment programs.

Groups Urge Transparency in School Spending Windfall

Both state and federal leaders have pledged a historic investment in education that is set to make California schools more flush with cash than they have been in years. 

But some education advocacy organizations are cautioning that districts may be less than transparent in how they spend that cash, reports Will Huntsberry in The Learning Curve. The group conducted an analysis of pandemic-related spending so far and found most districts did not clearly explain how they spent their money and often left out required information. 

“We cannot repeat past mistakes from 2020-21, when districts did not publicly account for billions of dollars in federal and state pandemic relief funds. This left stakeholders, who under the law must be partners in planning, in the dark about how these funds were spent,” said one advocate.

In Other News

  • Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann may have broken campaign spending laws related to legal defense funds, according to La Prensa. After losing a lawsuit related to his 2014 City Council campaign, McCann started a legal defense fund to pay for it, the paper reported. But legal defense funds are only allowed to pay for defending against a lawsuit, not starting one.
  • San Diego County reported 145 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday (that’s up modestly from earlier in the week, but the county reported 261 cases in a day just a week ago, and in early January reported 4,500 cases in a single day), with just one percent of all tests coming back positive. Now, the county is beginning to grapple with how to handle demand for the vaccine receding, as it approaches its goal of inoculating 75 percent of residents over 12 years old. (City News Service)
  • Fending off a ransomware attack, Scripps Health Thursday managed to get its main website back online, but the portal that patients use to make appointments and track their medical records is still down nearly three weeks later, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • The city of San Diego is proposing new regulations for scooter rental companies in the face of community complaints? Nature is healing. (Union-Tribune)
  • It’s gonna be cold and rainy in San Diego this weekend, which is garbage. (Union-Tribune)
  • Border Patrol officials say they’re seeing a surge of immigration attempts along the coast, after one person died Thursday when a panga boat capsized off the coast of La Jolla, the third high-profile event like it in recent weeks. (10 News)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Will Huntsberry and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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