King County councilmember sounds alarm on fentanyl problem in the region

Reagan Dunn is proposing increased resources in next budget to help lower rate of fentanyl deaths.

Fentanyl-related deaths in King County over past few years (courtesy of Public Health – Seattle & King County)

In response to a public safety alert issued by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency this past Monday, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is pushing for the County to increase its commitment to fentanyl overdose prevention and awareness in the upcoming supplemental budget.

“As fentanyl trafficking has swept through our region, it has claimed the lives of many hundreds of King County residents who unknowingly ingested the dangerous drug,” Dunn said. “This is a worsening crisis that will only take more lives unless we make a meaningful commitment to get the message out that it only takes one time, one pill to end your life.”

In a letter to the Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dunn asks to accelerate initiatives such as Public Health – Seattle & King County’s “Laced and Lethal” public awareness campaign. Laced and Lethal is an online education campaign that targets youth aged 14-18 through social media advertising.

Dunn says an additional investment would allow Public Health to broaden the campaign to traditional media and broader age groups, and educate family members on how to identify signs of drug use.

According to the DEA alert, the number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430% since 2019, with two out of five of those pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a deadly dose.

In King County, 256 fentanyl-related deaths were confirmed in the first three quarters of 2021 — already more than double the total number of fentanyl-related deaths in 2019 and nearly 50% more than 2020’s total fentanyl-related deaths. Throughout the country, substance use has increased dramatically during the pandemic with 13% of U.S. adults reportedly stated or increased substance use.

The DEA attributes fentanyl as the primary driver of the increase in overdose deaths as well as the increase in gun violence, as described in the public safety alert. In 2021, the DEA seized more than 2,700 firearms in connection with drug trafficking investigations – a 30% increase since 2019.

King County’s 2021 Mid-Biennial Omnibus Budget is scheduled to be transmitted to the Council on September 30 and will be considered over the next two months, with final Council action scheduled for November 23.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

file photo
Department of Health announces QR code verification program to prove vaccination status

WA Verify is intended to make vaccine verification simpler and more efficient.

Patti Cole-Trindall
King County Executive appoints Patti Cole-Tindall as interim sheriff

Cole-Tindall has a background in the sheriff’s office and county government.

courtesy of PropertyShark
State’s richest zip codes are all in East King County, according to home value study

Medina zip code ranks among top 10 most affluent in the nation.

Dish from Arleana’s (photo credit: Kat Young)
Owners of Seattle’s Island Soul rally community to help open Caribbean soul restaurant on the Eastside

Owners Theo and Gaelyn Martin turn to Kickstarter to crowdfund their restaurant Arleana’s in Kirkland

Redmond’s Silver Cloud Inn, purchased by county to become permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless (photo credit: Cameron Sheppard)
King County councilmember proposes a public comment period before county establishes homeless shelters

In some cities, hotels bought to homeless shelters have been constroversial among residents.

Pixabay image
Man dubbed “the sweatpants robber” arrested by Bellevue police

Antonio Aaron is supected of nine different robberies across East King County.

Abusive power and control diagram (Screenshot taken from Zoom meeting with advocates against domestic violence)
For domestic violence survivors, petitioning for a protective order can be an uphill battle

New state law intends to remove barriers to protection, but advocates say it may not do enough.

Left: Dow Constantine, Right: Joe Nguyen (screenshot from King County website)
Constantine leads in vote count for King County Executive

Incumbent Dow Constantine is challenged by State Sen. Joe Nguyen.

file photo
Two Eastside high schools recognized for their collective academic success

Redmond HS and Newport HS both honored, Newport had three different sports teams win.