Update: Wave of overdose cases reaches Kent County

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The Delaware State Police reported that a surge in overdose cases and suspected deaths extends into Kent County

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services reported on Friday that cases in Kent County requiring intubation (breathing help) and stays in intensive care have been seen in both Kent and Sussex counties.

There have been 42 suspected overdoses in Kent County since April 26. Suspected overdoses were not included in updates. However, data now shows similarities with Sussex cases.

Between April 26 and May 3, state troopers reported an increase in the number of suspected overdoses and the severity of the emergencies in Sussex. To date, there have been 83 suspected overdoses in Sussex County. Toxicology tests are pending on two additional suspected overdose fatalities, bringing the total of suspected overdose fatalities to five over the same time period for Kent and Sussex counties. There is one suspected overdose death in Kent County.

“We are seeing a greater number of patients being treated for suspected overdose but, more notably, a significant increase in the severity of the effects of overdoses,” said Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director Joanna Champney. “This severity is reflected in a greater percentage of patients needing admission with many of them requiring intubation, ICU level care, and multiple days in the hospital.”


While the majority of suspected overdoses have been in the greater area of Georgetown, Millsboro, and Milford, incidents are occurring throughout Sussex County.

DSP enlisted the Delaware National Guard to conduct testing on Wednesday for a sampling of the drugs found in those who had overdosed to determine the composition of the substance. The Delaware National Guard’s 31st Civil Support Team has the capability to test for a broad spectrum of chemicals.  Initial samples showed packages containing Xylazine, Bromazolam, Fentanyl, Quinine, and Caffeine.

DHSS and DSP urge the public to exercise extreme caution, refrain from consuming unknown substances, and avoid illegal drugs altogether. Individuals struggling with substance abuse are encouraged to seek immediate assistance from medical professionals or addiction support services.

Available support:

  • Call 911: In cases of overdose or medical emergencies..
  • Delaware 211: Dial 2-1-1 or visit delaware211.org for free, confidential assistance in multiple languages.
  • Delaware Hope Line: Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333) for 24/7 access to resources, support, and crisis assistance.
  • Bridge Clinics: Explore treatment services and resources in Delaware and neighboring states. In-person assessments are available at locations in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties.
  • Treatment Connection: Find nearby treatment providers at TreatmentConnection.com.
  • 988: For immediate crisis support, dial 988.
  • Narcan Training and OpiRescueDE App: Information on Narcan training and accessing medication is available online.

The Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health  has provided 1,300 Narcan kits to Beebe Healthcare to distribute throughout their health care system and an additional 200 kits have been distributed to Beebe Healthcare for use in their Emergency Department.

Those treating a suspected overdose are advised to be extra with powdered substances as they may increase the risk of substance ingestion or transmission. Those administering Narcan are advised to call 9-1-1 and remain with the victim.

The Delaware Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) offers the following recommendations to help prevent emergency responders’ exposure to illicit drugs, including synthetic opiates:

  • Gloves are all that is necessary in suspected overdose and no visible product.
  • Wear a face mask with eye shield if powdered illicit drugs are visible.
  • Do not touch the eyes, nose, or mouth after touching any surface that may be contaminated, even if wearing gloves.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after working in an area that may be contaminated, even if gloves were worn. Do not use hand sanitizer or bleach.