Heidi Ganahl is hammering Jared Polis over Colorado’s fentanyl death rate. Here are the facts. | SummitDaily.com

Heidi Ganahl is hammering Jared Polis over Colorado’s fentanyl death rate. Here are the facts.

Colorado’s rate is below the national average but is rising fast

Seth Klamann
The Denver Post
Republican gubernatorial candidate and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, right, responds to a question during a debate with Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Denver.
Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun

At the beginning of a televised debate last week, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl called Colorado “number two in fentanyl deaths” nationally, a stat she laid at the feet of her opponent, Gov. Jared Polis. She repeated the figure later on, prompting Polis to interject and note that Colorado was actually 26th in the nation for such overdoses.

The point came up again at another debate Sunday: As Polis said fentanyl “has been illegal, is illegal and will be illegal” under his leadership, Ganahl shook her head and told him that his comments “made a mockery” of parents whose children had died after taking the drug. She repeated her previous claim that Colorado was number two in the nation, albeit with an additional, important nuance: The state, she said, was second for its rate of increase in overdose deaths. Polis reiterated that Colorado was actually 26th.

So which is it? Where does Colorado rank in fentanyl deaths?

In short, not second. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list deaths specifically for fentanyl, but it does for synthetic narcotics — of which fentanyl is the dominant substance. According to that data, Colorado’s provisional, accidental overdose rate involving synthetic narcotics in 2021 was 16.8 per 100,000 residents, which was 31st in the nation and paled in comparison to top-ranked West Virginia, which had an overdose rate of just over 66.

A separate report, compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation, ranked Colorado 30th for opioid overdoses through 2020; Kaiser’s calculation is a slightly larger category than the CDC’s and would include heroin and prescription pills as well as fentanyl.

Read more on DenverPost.com.

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.