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October 27, 2021

Talking shop: US labor secretary, Rep. Trone visit Frederick Career and Technology Center

Credit: Fox 5 News, Alexa Ashwell

BALTIMORE (WBFF) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary announced Wednesday the Department’s new federal overdose prevention strategy in Baltimore.

Secretary Becerra was joined by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, U.S. Congressman David Trone and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

The data shows from January 2021 through June 2021 there were 49 more unintentional drug and alcohol related intoxication deaths in Baltimore City compared to the first six months of 2020.

Secretary Becerra says the new strategy is based on a holistic approach and includes four priorities.

Last week a local criminal defense attorney questioned whether Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s change in policy to not prosecute lower level crimes including drug possession has had an impact on overdoses.

“There has been a 10% increase in fatalities due to intoxication, meaning drug overdoses in the city of Baltimore from calendar year 2020 to 2021. So you have to then draw the inference. Is our failure to arrest and prosecute, not putting people in jail, but prosecute drug offenses leading to a substantial uptick in overdoses?” questioned Jeremy Eldridge, a local criminal defense attorney.

Mayor Brandon Scott told FOX45 News he did not believe the change in policy is a contributing factor to the increase.

Health Care for the Homeless is a health center that provides a range of health care services to people who are unhoused, including a syringe exchange and other addiction services.

“The folks that provide these services are going to help them regardless,” answered Scott. “This is not for them about political policy. It’s about saving lives.”