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Knox County sees increase of overdose-related deaths since start of coronavirus pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The coronavirus pandemic, which arrived in Tennessee in March, has impacted communities in numerous ways apart from the simple fact that the number of people infected continues to increase.

The collateral damage from the pandemic also includes those struggling with addiction.

Between March and May of this year, according to the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office‘s website, 100 people died of a suspected overdose-related deaths.

During the same time frame in 2019, 71 people died.

That is a 40% increase of overdose-related deaths.

Knox County DA’s Office, medical examiner data

In statistics shared by the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Drug Related Death Task Force, as of this story’s publication, there have been 14 suspected overdose-related deaths in the month of July, so far.

Last year, the month of July saw 20 deaths total; however, by July 20 of 2019, there had been 11 deaths.

This year has already surpassed 2019’s overdose-related deaths, year-to-date, total: There have been 175 overdose-related deaths for 2020; while in 2019, that total was at 141.

That’s a 24% increase in suspected overdose-related deaths.

According to the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office, the data sets show the number of suspected drug overdose deaths in Knox County from information provided by the Knox County Regional Forensic Center; however, in the county’s effort to identify suspected drug overdose deaths as soon as possible, the data is initially obtained before a death is determined to be an overdose.

Once a determination is made by the medical examiner, the data is updated, causing it to fluctuate over time.

The Metro Drug Coalition of Knoxville posted about the drastic increase of deaths in its July Gateway update online.

Karen Pershing, executive director of Knoxville’s Metro Drug Coalition, said the pandemic created a lot of isolation.

While it’s not easy for many to be isolated, it’s especially difficult for those struggling with addiction.

She said many people were able to get through stay-at-home orders because they could call loved ones and find virtual ways to connect.

For people who are early in their recovery process, they haven’t had time to rebuild those connections or create new ones.

“We know the opposite of addiction is not recovery, but it’s connection, and it’s really connection to others and connection with the broader community,” Pershing said.

Sharon Hajko, a volunteer with the county’s overdose victim’s support group, said the major difference between this year and last year is being able to have those face-to-face interactions.

“You were meeting people face to face, the medication take back events, you were getting to talk to people face to face. The recovery groups were meeting face to face,” Hajko said.

Pershing said that one of the broken connections could also be a trigger to use drugs or alcohol: loss of employment when businesses were forced to close.

“When businesses shut down or had to lay people off, again, that leaves people feeling more hopeless and when you feel more hopeless, sometimes you may turn to alcohol or drugs,” Pershing said.

Pershing added that due to social distancing, addicts might be using drugs alone more often, which means no one is there to administer Nalaxone or call 911.

However, MDC was still finding ways to train loved ones how to administer Nalaxone, even if it meant meeting up in a random parking lot and wearing masks and gloves.

Support and recovery services in general also suffered, according to Pershing.

She said treatment was still available, but because of the pandemic, how people were being treated shifted, which also created a little slow down of how many people could be helped.

Metro Drug Coalition also had to take a pause in creating a community recovery center due to the pandemic.

How ‘The Gateway’ provided space for ‘The Guest House’

Earlier this year, Metro Drug Coalition was part of an initiative that opened “The Guest House” for people experiencing homelessness to stay while recovering from COVID-19.

The coalition had plans to open its recovery shelter, “The Gateway” this year, but due to the pandemic, partnered with the city to open “The Guest House” at the location originally designated for The Gateway.

In April, MDC said they were temporarily putting The Gateway plans on hold to allow for the building on West Fifth Ave. to be a shelter space for people experiencing homelessness who have been tested for COVID-19.

Hajko said their family support groups pretty much stopped as well because of the pandemic.

As a parent of an overdose victim herself, Hajko truly feels sorry for the families who recently lost loved ones, and wants them to know, as well as struggling addicts, there will always be help.

“Unfortunately you’re not alone, and there are people out there who understand and are willing to talk to you,” Hajko said.

Within the last month or so, groups started meeting again.

Hajko said the support group started meeting in person again at the beginning of July, wearing masks and gloves.

Pershing said sometimes recovery groups meet outside or virtually.

She said she knows it’s difficult to battle a pandemic and an epidemic at the same time, but now that everything is reopening again, she knows the community can step up.

“I really feel that we can do something about this when we come out of it. If we can take the caring and concern we have for spreading this virus, and we can translate that into ‘let’s not let these young people die unintentionally from drug overdoses,’ there is nothing this community can’t do,” Pershing said.

How MDC wants to continue its mission in driving down overdose data, offering resources through ‘The Gateway’

Despite these numbers, Pershing said MDC isn’t giving up hope that they can help drive down the numbers for the remainder of the year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of that mission, they’re trying to continue its renovations for “The Gateway” and thanks to a federal grant, that will help, but there’s more to do.

“There is not a more urgent time for our community to come together and build a center where connection, healing and hope can happen for individuals and families. The Gateway renovation needs to happen quickly. By partnering with MDC, you can help build bridges to lasting recovery through recovery coaching, access to support groups, art and music therapy, trainings for individuals and families, access to credit repair and employment services, as well as opportunities for connection to additional education and job training programs.
We need a physical place for all of this to come together. The building is in a perfect location, staff and volunteers are ready to serve, we need you to come alongside us to push aside the stigma of guilt and shame and open up life-changing opportunities. MDC recently received the federal Building Communities of Recovery grant to cover the operations for the next three years. We are the first agency in Tennessee to receive this funding. A solid foundation is in place, but physical space is our only limitation.
With your help, we can unlock endless possibilities of individuals and families.”
-Metro Drug Coalition

For anyone struggling with addiction, call the TN Redline at 1-800-889-9789.

For families who lost loved ones to an overdose, call Tracee Smith with the Knox County DA’s office at 865-215-3875.

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Dustin Aab on the importance of achieving financial freedom in life | Personal Finance News

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The more closely we look around us, the more we get nearer to reality where so many individuals work with a certain grit, commitment and dedication to achieve what their hearts desire. These individuals are the ones that not only work to attain their set goals in their career but also help others in their journeys. Talking about the sales and consulting business, which is growing each passing day across nations as professionals from various industries aim to get nearer their visions and aspirations in business, we can notice the boom in this niche; thanks to professional entrepreneurs like Dustin Aab.

Based out of California, Dustin Aab is a leading American entrepreneur, who excels in sales and consulting and has been shaping the careers of hundreds of people through his astute skills and knowledge as a true professional in the industry. It was seven years ago that Dustin Aab had started his career in the sales arena and from the past six years owns his sales company, under which he is working with the mission to turn the desires and dreams of professionals into reality through his mentorship and coaching in sales.

Dustin Aab’s sales and consulting business is all about providing the best of the industry products and services that help individuals change their financial status and situation. His life has been full of challenges, but Dustin Aab very early had realized the power of working hard and putting in every possible effort to make a successful career; hence, after working so hard for years, he has been able to create the financial freedom he wanted by becoming an entrepreneur. He hopes to change as many lives as he can in his career and take people nearer to their definition of success. He does sales mentorship and consulting for not just individuals, but companies as well.

Some of the specific services he offers through his company include Real estate, amazon automation, sales training mentorship, credit repair, Instagram growth and branding, life insurance and solar.

(Disclaimer: This is a Brand Desk content)

 

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Home Depot, Inc. (The) (NYSE:HD), J P Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) – Key Markets To Watch As The Mortgage Boom Continues To Fade

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The last year has seen the most eye-popping spike in value in history. 

While the Covid 19 pandemic initially shut down economies across the globe, the Work from Home movement caused a mass exodus away from metropolitan areas where many large companies are headquartered.  Homebuyers have been laying siege on the housing market to the point where houses in the most desirable locations are selling for more than 50% above the asking price in some cases.

This current trend is all thanks to the Fed lowering interest rates last year in response to the pandemic to help bolster the economy. 

Lowering the interest rate allows banks to charge less interest on consumer mortgages.  When mortgages are cheaper, it may entice would-be home buyers to jump on opportunities, but it also gives current homeowners the ability to re-finance (re-fi) and pocket the cash to use elsewhere.  While this was the intended response, the side effects of cheap access to money led to an immense spike in demand for mortgages.

Regarding the demand for houses from new home buyers, there is a potential for the steam to run out of this drive because buyers are being priced out of opportunities. This is partly due to the massive supply and demand imbalance and partly due to raw materials for new houses such as lumber adding so much to the price of a new house, which eventually dissuades buyers away from the market.

The mortgage markets, however, are also running out of steam.  It can be inferred from the earnings call from Rocket Companies, Inc. (NYSE: RKT) that the mortgage market is experiencing a price war that, while temporary, is weighing on profits.  Mortgage companies are continually fighting to provide consumers with better rates, but this competition can only last for so long.

Whether you’re invested in the mortgage companies, real estate, or are simply an interested home buyer, here are some recommendations of markets to follow to find out if the steam does run out and a correction occurs in the housing market.

Mortgage Writers Rejoice

Mortgage companies like Rocket Companies, owner of Quicken Loans, North American Savings Bank (OTC: NASB), and Chase Bank (NYSE: JPM) saw massive profits during 2020 and early parts of 2021 as the demand for mortgages skyrocketed.  They expanded services, increased employee pay, and saw growth like they hadn’t seen since before the financial crisis in 2008. 

While banks generally learned their lesson the last time around, this time is different.  Back in 2008, the methods used by banks to get people to sign on the dotted lines were sometimes less than savory.  This led to a sharp rise in risky mortgages that eventually led to waves of defaults that the financial system wasn’t prepared to handle.

This time, the consumers have run at banks with their money and demanded mortgages.  On top of this, the mortgages being written are for individuals who meet lenders’ requirements.  According to this credit repair report, companies are more sophisticated now as well, and they are helping even more people get good rates and adding to the numbers flocking to mortgage companies.

However, the world is emerging from life during Covid, and the mortgage companies will be the ones to show the first signs of a cooling market.  It may have already started, as mentioned before during Rocket Companies, Inc.’s earnings call. 

The Luxuries of Home Improvement

Amazon will indeed rule the world if it can ever pose a threat to home improvement giants like Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW). 

While both companies certainly specialize in retail home improvement supply, the bulk of their business is from commercial sales in contractor supplies.  If you’ve ever tried to go to a Home Depot or Lowe’s on a Saturday morning, you’ve seen the lines of contractor trucks pulling through the bay to pick up cords of PVC, lumber, and other materials.  These items are not easy to ship. All the better for the continued legacy of both of these companies.

The consistent profits for Home Depot and Lowe’s over the last year have largely been fueled by both the new home market and the refinance market.  New homes depend on raw materials to build, and if the market for new homes begins to cool, Home Depot and Lowe’s will be the stocks to watch.  However, the new home sales market tends to lag behind existing home sales since new homes are often built by large development companies as inventory before they are sold to home buyers.

To a much larger degree, home improvement projects have seen massive growth due to homeowners refinancing their mortgages and using the savings to build upon home values.  This may represent the bulk of the correlation between home improvement stocks and the mortgage market.  While the home improvement market is expected to rise in the coming years, a fall in revenues could point to a cooling in refinance applications.

Summing Up

The mortgage market relies on bringing customers to the table to sign papers. 

However, there are only so many willing buyers, and most of them have been drawn out over the last year for a variety of reasons including the Work from Home movement, extra savings built up due to lockdowns, and historically low interest rates. 

While business has been good, the world emerging from the current crisis may signal a cooling in the housing market, though not to the extent of the 2008 financial crisis. Keeping track of mortgage writing and home improvement companies may provide an idea of where the sentiment lies and allow investors to prepare for changing markets in the near future.

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Way to Realizing Fiscal Freedom With Fix It Financial

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