May 14, 2021

Overdose deaths rise, DPS patrol, lumber shortages

Plus, Tucson Police discuss responding to more overdose calls

The number of overdose-related deaths registered in Pima County set a new record in 2020, according to the chief medical examiner’s annual report. The report tracked 13,461 registered deaths overall, a 26% increase compared to the average for the previous three years. It identified 446 deaths from overdose-related causes, reflecting a 32% increase from the previous year. We discussed the findings with Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Greg Hess.


A Tucson Police unit responsible for investigating crimes associated with drug activity has responded to more than 80 overdose-related deaths since January. That’s according to Sgt. Dallas Hearn with the department’s Counter Narcotics Alliance. Hearn discussed the types of drugs commonly involved in its investigations, how they are spreading across the community and his unit’s role in interdicting them.


Traffic along Arizona’s roadways continues to increase to pre-pandemic levels. On any given day troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety see a mix of everything from traffic violations to narcotics and impaired driving. Lorraine Rivera saw this first hand when she joined Trooper David Chavez on one of his patrols.


As more of the economy reopens, the cost of doing business has gone up in some sectors. Construction in particular is dealing with a rise in lumber prices. The National Association of Homebuilders estimated in April that increasing lumber prices over the last 12 months added nearly $36,000 to the average cost of a new, single-family home. High demand for new housing coupled with a drop in lumber production are just a few factors. Efforts to ease the burden on builders and homebuyers has put renewed focus on tariffs levied on lumber imported from Canada. We discussed the international interest this issue has garnered with Zaib Shaikh, Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles.

Lumber is the only resource in high demand. Pandemic-related disruptions hit a number of industries. We turned to University of Arizona economist George Hammond for more insight.

Arizona 360
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