MSNBC Profiles Ohio County Hit Hard By Opioid Epidemic

• June 19, 2017 11:53 am


MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff went to Montgomery County, Ohio to expose the effects of the opioid epidemic that is ravishing the area.

The segment was part of a three-part series titled "One Nation Overdosed." Soboroff went to the southwestern Ohio county that is home to Dayton.

Because of the rise of fentanyl, a highly potent opioid that can be deadly just to touch, the number of overdose deaths has skyrocketed to record levels. Montgomery County, Ohio had over 300 overdose deaths in the first five months of 2017, the same number as last year's total.

Authorities predict that Montgomery County will see as many as 800 overdose deaths in 2017.

"We're on the pace to have 800 people die this year due to overdose in our county," Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said. "Per capita, we're number one in the nation in overdose deaths."

Plummer blamed much of the reason on the local job market crumbling.

Soboroff talked to a local resident on a quiet street that she called "Morgue Avenue." When asked which houses people have died in due to overdoses, the woman had a quick response to Soboroff.

"What houses have people not died in?" she said.

The woman said that at one point, nine people died within 47 minutes due to overdoses on her street.

Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger showed Soboroff the human cost at the county morgue. Vials of blood each represented a death whose blood was tested for the presence of fentanyl or other opioids.

Harshbarger also brought Soboroff into a mostly full refrigerated room where bodies lay on trays from the past 24 to 48 hours. Harshbarger said that by night, the room would be mostly full and that 60 to 70 percent of the bodies that go through there died from fentanyl.

Harshbarger predicted that the entire State of Ohio will face 10,000 overdose deaths in 2017 and that the crisis must be treated as a "mass casualty event."

Published under: MSNBC, Ohio