Travis County, home to the Texas state capital of Austin, is on track to record double the number of fentanyl deaths in 2022 than it did all of last year, Judge Andy Brown said Monday.
Fentanyl was detected in nearly two-thirds of all overdose deaths last year, while it was detected in just 38% last year.
“Overdose deaths are a public crisis and together we can do something about it,” Brown said at a press conference. “Fentanyl does not discriminate. It can impact and is impacting all of us.”
Fentanyl, an opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, has driven the latest phase of the opioid epidemic nationwide. It was responsible for 71,238 of the record 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States last year, according to the CDC.
Brown is pushing for Travis County to provide more narcan, a powerful medicine that can reverse opioid overdoses.
FENTANYL DRIVES SURGE IN US OVERDOSE DEATHS IN WAKE OF NATION’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC
Fentanyl test strips, which can allow people to test their drugs to make sure they aren’t cut with the deadly opioid, are currently illegal under Texas state law.
He is also asking the state legislature to legalize fentanyl test strips, which people can use to ensure that drugs aren’t cut with the deadly opioid, but are currently criminalized in Texas.
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Fentanyl comes in pill, powder, and liquid form, making it relatively easy for drug dealers to smuggle across the border and around the country.
Since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star last year, more than 352 million lethal doses of fentanyl have been seized at the border.
According to a Drug Enforcement Agency report, the vast majority of fentanyl, and the chemicals used to make it, originates in China. It’s smuggled into the country across the US-Mexico border, which under Biden’s watch has consistently broken records for illegal crossings.