By Mike Kruzman /

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released its latest report on the response to the opioid crisis, with Livingston County being in the top 10 counties for fatal overdoses.

The state health department and the Michigan Opioids Task Force released their 2020 annual report on the opioid epidemic this week. Over the past two decades, the number of Michiganders who have died from a fatal opioid overdose has grown nine times.

According to the report, which focuses on 2019 numbers, of counties with the highest fatal overdose rate, age-adjusted, Livingston County ranks as the ninth highest at 20.2 per 100,000 residents. Locally, opioid overdoses took 34 lives in 2019. The report states that the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the already deadly drug overdose epidemic. Provisional 2020 data indicates there will have been an increase in total drug overdose deaths.

Going forward, the MDHHS is pursuing three pieces of legislation to strengthen the state’s response to the opioid crisis. One is to require hospitals have a post-overdose care protocol that includes connecting them to community care. The second is to permit the state’s Chief medical executive to issue a standing order for community-based organizations to directly purchase and distribute naloxone. And the third is to strengthen existing legal protections for syringe service programs, which distribute clean needles to decrease the spread of communicable diseases.

A full copy of the report can be found at: