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‘Significant increase:’ 14 probable overdose deaths in Milwaukee County since Friday

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MILWAUKEE — At least 14 people died of apparent drug overdoses since Friday, July 26 in Milwaukee County, officials with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office said Monday, July 29. The medical examiner said the spike was taxing their staff and resources.

Sara Schreiber

"We've seen a significant increase in the last week," said Sara Schreiber, Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office. "We've investigated 21 cases in the last week's time."

The medical examiner said three people died in less than one hour on Sunday, and in less than five hours on Saturday, five people died of suspected overdoses.

"This weekend in particular was very busy," Schreiber. "We had a period on Saturday where we had seven overdoses reported to this office in less than five hours, and (Sunday) we had a period where there was three reported in under an hour."

Schreiber said that until toxicology reports came back for each person -- exact causes of death would not be able to be determined.

"At this point in time, it's difficult to see if they're related at all, if they have a common drug, maybe, that would be identified in them, or if they're even drug-related in the end at all," said Schreiber.

It wasn't immediately clear if this was a bad batch of drugs -- or if it was a lot of people making reckless choices.

"We've seen plenty of combination drug use," said Schreiber. "We've seen an increase in the amount of cocaine we've seen in this county, and oftentimes, it's with an opioid."

One thing that was apparent was the impact of this spike on staff at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, and their resources.

"The fact that this office was receiving calls, multiple calls within an hour, five in under five hours of time, three in under an hour of time -- it's very busy," said Schreiber.

Schreiber said the staff was concerned the number of overdose deaths would continue to rise.

The majority of the deaths occurred in Milwaukee.

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