Health Care

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp gives update on K-2 overdose outbreak


There has been a rash of suspected drug overdoses on the New Haven Green Wednesday, with at least 76 people taken to area hospitals.

New Haven fire chief John Alston said responders received calls just after 8 a.m. reporting multiple individuals experiencing overdose symptoms, including unconsciousness, vomiting and nausea.

Police say there haven't been any deaths linked to the overdoses, although two people were hospitalized in critical condition.

As was the case on Wednesday, the synthetic drug K2 was suspected.

"Nationwide, this is an issue for every city, every agency", Alston said.

Police arrested a local man on Wednesday that they believe may be connected to the drug overdoses in New Haven, according to a news release.

Lt. Ernest Jones, an emergency medical technician for the New Haven Fire Department, told the Register he's had his job for five years, and never had such an abnormal day at work. New Haven police said one person is in custody.

Police and fire officials said the K2 was potentially laced with some type of opioid.

Authorities said most of the New Haven patients responded to high doses of Narcan given at the hospital and they were released.

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New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said the number includes 15 people who overdosed within 45 minutes of each other on Wednesday morning at the New Haven Green, a large city park.

There have been mixed reports regarding the possibility that the drugs may have been laced with an opioid.

"We're getting another call of a person", Alston said.

He says one of the victims still had some of the drug, which was sent off to a lab for testing. Emergency responders rushed to one victim as officials were giving a news conference nearby on Wednesday morning. The state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services have been assisting New Haven officials throughout the day.

Synthetic cannabinoids like K2 are human-made chemicals that can be either sprayed on dried plants and smoked or sold as liquids to be inhaled in e-cigarettes or other devices.

Fontana said 72 people were brought to hospitals and four refused to be treated or transported to hospitals.

"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 Democratic governor said in a statement.

A similar incident occurred on July 4, when more than a dozen people in the same park were treated for sicknesses related to synthetic marijuana, The Associated Press reported.