EVERETT — This year, there have been 95 drug overdoses in the city of Everett alone, a 493% increase year-over-year, according to preliminary data from the Everett Police Department.
The “majority” of those are related to fentanyl, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in an interview.
A roundtable talk Monday — closed to media — included Sen. Maria Cantwell, County Executive Dave Somers, Tulalip Tribes Chair Teri Gobin, health experts, law enforcement and members of the community who have lived on the front lines of the fentanyl crisis. For two hours, they gathered to discuss how to move forward.
Cantwell wants to develop a “more federal, coordinated response with local governments to fight this crisis,” she said in a briefing with media following the roundtable.
“We have to meet it at the national level with a task force response that helps the communities get the resources they need to fight it, and coordinate with (the Drug Enforcement Administration) and our local law enforcement to tackle this,” Cantwell said.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
On average, one person dies per day from a fentanyl overdose in the county. The total number of overdoses is much higher. One social worker shared that while embedded with police, she responded to seven overdoses in a single shift. One of those resulted in a death.
“This does not go down party lines. It does not go down race lines. It does not go down age lines,” said Cathi Lee, a local mother whose son died of an overdose during college. “It can happen to the 12-year-old or the 50-year-old — it does not matter. This is an everyone problem.”
Those present discussed how fentanyl has affected their lives personally. After the death of Lee’s son, she helped found the International Overdose Awareness Day to dispel the stigma around programs to get help.
Somers shared about the death of his younger brother to fentanyl in March of this year. His brother, Alan Paulsen, was 58 when he overdosed. In May, Somers announced a two-part plan to address the crisis locally. The plan allocated $1.4 million in opioid settlement funds and issued a new directive to the county Department of Emergency Management.
“Fentanyl is a whole new monster,” said Taylor Madison, a woman from Snohomish County who’s now 18 months sober. “I personally did six months of long-term inpatient … it took time, and it took work, and it took support — a lot of support. I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself.”
In 2022, fentanyl was involved in more than 80% of opioid-related deaths in Snohomish County. Madison said having immediate access to beds and treatment programs can be the difference between life and death.
Waiting “that day, week, month — it could be too late,” Madison said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported the number of overdose deaths this year in Everett. A total of 95 drug overdoses have been reported, while 26 of those have been fatal, according to preliminary data from the Everett Police Department.