NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Officials say three arrests have been made after at least 76 people have overdosed in New Haven on Wednesday.
The city of New Haven has issued a Public Health Alert following the overdoses. Police have not released the names of the arrestees.
Police Chief Anthony Campbell said that the overdoses are now a citywide problem. The first overdoses were reported on or near the New Haven Green, but victims are now spread out across the city.
Fire Chief John Alston Jr. said a news conference midday Wednesday that the victims apparently consumed the synthetic marijuana known as K2. Around 8:55 p.m. officials with the city of New Haven stated that DEA testing confirmed the overdoses were caused by K2 with no additives. However, an official with Yale New Haven Hospital stated earlier in the night that the substance was believed to be laced with Fentanyl.
“Today New Haven was on the front lines of a coast-to-coast struggle to combat the public health menace of illicit distribution and use of what appear to be tainted street drugs – as many as 46 cases are confirmed in the city since last night,” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said. “I’m extremely grateful for the timely and effective work of first responders who helped revive, transport, and save these victims.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy added, “Today’s emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals. The substance behind these overdoses is highly dangerous and must be avoided. The state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services have been assisting New Haven officials throughout the day. I have spoken with Mayor Harp and assured her that the state remains committed and ready to assist their response efforts wherever needed.”
A few people became ill late Tuesday night, but the majority of victims have been found on Wednesday.
Web Extra: News 8’s Stephanie Simoni was first on the scene to report on the overdoses
Allston said that several victims were found unconscious. Some were nauseous, while others appeared to be lethargic.
New Haven Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana said that there have been no deaths related to these overdoses. All victims are being treated at area hospitals.
“We are doing our best to get people to the hospital in the safest and most practical and efficient manner. We’ve heard from people on the green that it potentially included PCP, and some of the reactions of the patients would suggest there was an opioid involved as well.”
Officials said that some of the victims were given anti-overdose drugs, but they did not work. According to authorities, the majority of the victims were transported to hospitals while just a handful were treated and refused to go to the hospital.
By 9:50 p.m., the number of confirmed overdoses jumped to 76.
Web Extra: Ofc. David Hartman shares Wednesday night update on New Haven overdoses
The New Haven Fire Department is receiving mutual aid from all surrounding towns.
Web Extra: How emergency crews respond to overdoses
Web Extra: EMS Medical Director Dr. Sandy Bogucki explains the dangers of K2