King County officials consider legislation that would declare fentanyl a public health crisis

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County leaders are working to address the fentanyl crisis as the county is on track to set yet another record for fentanyl-related deaths.

With an increase in deaths, officials are now considering legislation that would declare fentanyl a public health crisis as there has been a 43% increase in fentanyl-related deaths compared to this time last year.

On Thursday morning, the county council discussed the hot topic of fentanyl.

“We know that fentanyl is really the biggest contributor to the significant rise in overdose deaths that continues to kill more and more of our community members, not only here in King County, across the state and across the country,” Brad Finegood with Public Health – Seattle & King County said during Thursday’s meeting.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn proposed the legislation, asking the county to develop additional strategies and recommendations to amplify its response to the rise in fentanyl deaths.

A mother who lost her daughter to fentanyl made an emotional plea via phone during the meeting.

“This is happening way, way too many times now. It is a public health crisis. If you can help one family, just one family with this legislation, you’ll being doing so much, one family to not go through what my family is continuing to go through the rest of our lives,” said Laura Lynch.

According to the King County Fatal Overdose Dashboard, the number of people in King County who died from fentanyl more than doubled last year.

In 2022 thus far, there have been 246 reported deaths, exceeding last year’s numbers during the first and second quarters.

“What’s happening here, largely, is that precursor chemicals are being shipped from China and other countries to labs in Mexico. Cartel organizations are bringing that product across the border,” Dunn said.

During the meeting, council members voted to amend the bill, which will move to the full city council on July 19 for further discussion.