A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Department of Health Releases Unintentional Drug Overdose Data Dashboard
As drug overdoses rise in Washington State, the Department of Health has released its Unintentional Drug Overdose Data dashboard, using data collected through the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS). SUDORS data is refreshed twice annually, in the spring and fall; it connects information from a number of sources, including reports from coroners and medical examiners, toxicology, autopsies, and prescription drug monitoring program data, when available. The data can be filtered by drug category, demographic group, or time period.
About 88% of statewide overdose deaths are represented in the SUDORS data, which involves 13 Washington State counties that are actively participating. Eventually, the program hopes to include all counties in the state.
“To stem the tide of deaths from opioid overdose, we need to raise awareness, increase access to treatment, and get naloxone to people who use drugs. Together, through transparency, compassion, and collaboration, we can turn this data into action to build a safer, healthier future for all Washingtonians,” said DOH’s Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, M.D., M.P.H., chief science officer, via press release.
The data is different but related to that of the DOH’s Opioid and Drug Overdose Data Dashboard, which contains data from every county in Washington State around overdose deaths, hospitalizations, and EMS responses; it can be filtered by residence, age, sex, and race or ethnicity.
Those who wish to learn more about how to prevent or respond to drug overdoses can visit the DOH website or read more about the department’s Prevent Overdose WA campaign. The Prevent Overdose WA campaign was developed to educate the public on ways to respond to growing numbers of fentanyl and opioid overdose deaths, as well as how to use naloxone to reverse those overdoses.
King County Listening Session Will Inform Community-Based Alternatives for Youth
King County Department of Community and Human Services will be hosting a community-listening session with youth, young adults, and adults in order to help inform the county about community-based alternatives instead of punitive systems, in order to support youth healing, accountability, and community safety.
The event is cohosted by the newly formed nonprofit CoCreative Culture, which helps eradicate the school-to-prison pipeline by improving social, economic, and environmental conditions for young people.
The listening sessions will take place on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington, in Building 3 Rooms 101, 102, and 103. Food, music, and $50 gift cards will be provided to all participants.
Department of Health Seeks Feedback on State Drinking Water Policy
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is working on updating its water drinking policy — in particular, its definition and criteria for identifying “disadvantaged communities” for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program. The DWSRF program offers no-cost or low-cost loans for infrastructure improvements related to drinking water systems, including those that are publicly owned by municipalities or those that are privately owned. Funding can be used on pipe creation or maintenance, storage tanks, water treatment, or other related projects.
The program is supported by state funds and federal funds distributed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the national Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the DWSRF program “must allocate a percentage of funding and loan subsidy (up to 100 percent principal forgiveness) to disadvantaged communities,” and each state must create its own definitions. For 2023, Washington State temporarily identified a definition for “disadvantaged communities” in order to get the funding out quickly; for 2024, that definition will be made permanent, following this period of public feedback.
More information is available via a one-sheet in English and Spanish. Individuals from groups that would self-identify as “disadvantaged” — including Communities of Color, rural communities, tribal communities, low-income individuals, migrant workers, or those with chronic health conditions — are encouraged to offer input. They can participate in a number of ways:
- Share your input virtually through an online survey: bit.ly/DOHDrinkingWaterSurvey-English.
- Register at bit.ly/DOHDrinkingWaterCall to attend one of the virtual listening sessions, which take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, and Dec.6.
- Send your feedback to the DOH via email to DWSRF@doh.wa.gov or call 564-233-1799.
- Sign up on the DOH website to receive ongoing updates about the rulemaking process and upcoming community engagement opportunities.
Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the editor-in-chief of REDEFINE, a co-chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, and a film educator at the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they previously served as executive director and played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences. After a recent stint as the interim managing editor at South Seattle Emerald, they are moving into production on their feature film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multilingual POC buddy comedy. Learn more about them at linktr.ee/hellomynameisvee.
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