Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Minority-owned Southern businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic with a fund's help; President Biden says don't panic over the new COVID variant; and eye doctors gauge the risk of dying from COVID.


U.S. Senate is back in session with a long holiday to-do list that includes avoiding a government shutdown; negotiations to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal resume; and Jack Dorsey resigns as CEO of Twitter.


South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

As MD Opioid Deaths Explode in Pandemic, Town Halls Aim to Halt Crisis


Monday, August 23, 2021   

BALTIMORE - The Maryland Stop Opioid Overdose Strategy, or Maryland S-O-S program, launches town hall meetings this week to address ways to combat the health crisis that has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Starting in Allegheny County on Thursday, the meetings are a chance for Marylanders to talk about their struggles and hear methods for helping opioid users, according to Robin Rickard, director of Maryland's Opioid Operational Command Center.

She said officials were encouraged when the state's opioid deaths dropped in 2019 for the first time in years. But they're now taking a more aggressive approach.

"Right when the numbers started going down, COVID hit," said Rickard. "So last year, Maryland went up 18%, as a nation 30%. Maryland did do better than the national average - but again, we're not happy with that."

She said the town halls are a chance to hear about what works and what isn't working following the worst year on record for overdose deaths.

Thursday's meeting at Allegheny College in Cumberland starts at 5 o'clock. More information is online at 'BeforeItsTooLate.maryland.gov,' or on the Maryland S-O-S Facebook page.

Rickard said she thinks it's important to realize opioid abuse isn't just a rural problem in Maryland.

"Fentanyl is what the driving force is, and it's everywhere," said Rickard. "And at these Maryland town hall meetings, we will be educating the public and the community of what the statistics are in their jurisdiction, as compared to other jurisdictions."

She pointed out the S-O-S initiative also aims to educate people about the state's Opioid Restitution Fund. Created in 2019 by the General Assembly, it includes money from opioid manufacturers' lawsuit settlements for treatment and recovery services.

"We're not spending any of this money until we hear from all the Marylanders," said Rickard, "from treatment providers, from state and local partners, because we want to make the best decisions that we possibly can."

A record-breaking 2,500 Marylanders died of opioid overdoses in 2020.

The numbers continue to rise - from January to March of this year, 614 residents died of opioid abuse. That's almost a 6% increase from the same time last year.

get more stories like this via email
The proposed Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge is key habitat to the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly. (Eric Porter/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


HEMET, Calif. -- Public-lands groups are asking Congress to support the proposed Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge, a 500,000-acre swath …

Social Issues

PRINCETON, Minn. -- President Joe Biden is expected to visit Minnesota today to tout passage of the new federal infrastructure bill. Those working …

Health and Wellness

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Advocates for access to mental-health services are holding a Behavioral Health Summit today at the Augusta Civic Center. They are …

Experts say eye exams do more than just help patients find the right prescription for glasses. (Dario Lo Presti/Adobestock)

Health and Wellness

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Eye exams can help determine your risk of dying from COVID, according to experts, because optometrists are often the first …

Health and Wellness

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- In a few weeks, Kentucky lawmakers will convene the General Assembly, and health advocates are calling for new policies to address …

Conservationists say the Recovering America's Wildlife Act could support improvements to water quality in the Ozarks, including the Buffalo National River. (Adobe Stock)


ST. JOE, Ark. -- More than a decade of restoration efforts in a section of Northern Arkansas' Ozark National Forest have led to 40 new species of …

Social Issues

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The New Mexico Legislature will consider three possible redistricting maps for the House and Senate when it meets for a special …

Social Issues

HOUSTON, Texas -- Minority-owned businesses across the South are benefitting from a program designed to help them get back on their feet post-…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021