By Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2021

CHICAGO (AP) - A study of deaths related to opioid-related overdoses in suburban Chicago has found heroin was the chief killer, according to a report released Friday.

The report, titled “Opioid Epidemic in Suburban Cook County,” was a joint effort by the Cook County Department of Public Health and researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The report revealed that of the 1,600 overdose deaths recorded from 2016 through June 2020, 83% tested positive for fentanyl or heroin, or a combination of both.

The hardest hit suburbs include Worth, Broadview, Maywood and Forest Park, places with low income residents and high poverty rates.

“Health outcomes often broadly track with these social conditions that we know have impacts beyond one’s pocketbook,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, a senior medical officer for the county’s health department.

According to the report, whites made up 66.4% of the deaths, Blacks made of 21.9% and Hispanics 10.6%.

The report noted opioid overdose deaths appeared to drop during the small portion of the study that overlapped with the beginning months of the pandemic. However, it was noted it was too soon to draw any conclusions due to a six to nine month lag on data collection, said the report’s authors.

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