LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Standing with members of several Kentucky organizations in Jefferson Square Park Wednesday, Tiny Herron called for action to stop overdose deaths. 

“How many more people have to die before we do something?” asked Herron, who serves as a care coordinator for The Hope Village. “Working with the houseless population, no one should ever be sharpening a needle on the concrete. They should have access to safe using supplies.”

What You Need To Know

  • VOCAL-KY and community partners held a news conference Wednesday in Louisville

  • They announced a proposed “roadmap” to end overdoses

  • Among other actions, it calls for expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, harm reduction services and emergency housing

  • The group plans to meet with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer this week 

Herron lost her husband, Todd Markwell, to fentanyl nearly four years ago, she said.  

“He was a human being, a beautiful human being,” Herron told Spectrum News 1. “I try to not grow weary with this, but I feel like we’re losing this and you know, this fentanyl is out of control and it’s in everything, so we have to talk about it.”

A state report shows 2,250 people died from a drug overdose last year, a nearly 15% increase from 2020. Fentanyl was involved in 477 deaths in Jefferson County alone.

This week, VOCAL-KY and community partners unveiled a 2022 “roadmap” for the Louisville Metro Government to address the crisis. 

Among other actions, it calls for:

  • Decreasing incarceration in the Louisville jail
  • Providing the overdose-reversing drug naloxone in all jail cells 
  • Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, harm reduction services and emergency housing
  • A resolution that “acknowledges the failures of drug war-era policies in Louisville”

Rep. Attica Scott (D, Louisville) shared that her mother struggled with addiction and died from an overdose when Scott was 16.  

“We call on both local and state government to take action because it is all of our responsibility to take care of people and to take care of families,” said Scott. “Families are in crisis, families are struggling and they need our love and support, not our condemnation.”

VOCAL-KY plans to meet with the mayor this week and hopes to implement the ideas as soon as possible, organizers said.