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‘A Wake-Up Call’ For LA County (And Other Headlines)

Side-by-side graphics show causes of death in unhoused L.A. County residents in the year before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the year before the leading causes of death were, in order: drug overdose, coronary heart disease, traffic injury, homicide and suicide. In the year after all causes had gone up significantly and COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death.
(Courtesy L.A. County Public Health)
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Advocates for people experiencing homelessness and medical professionals are sounding off after a report released Friday showed an alarming increase in the deaths of unhoused people between 2019 and 2021, many due to drug overdoses.

Service workers for unhoused people speak up

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My colleague David Wagner talked to a few service providers about the increase of overdoses, mostly from methamphetamine and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, that have accounted for 37% of all unhoused deaths in 2020 and 2021 together.

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John Maceri of The People Concern social service agency told David this is a “wake-up call.”

“For a while, Los Angeles was kind of lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of opioid overdoses and fentanyl," he said. "But what we've seen is just an explosion — a real acceleration in the last couple of years.”

Efforts have been made by L.A. County health officials to distribute Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of opioid overdose, to those living in encampments on the street. But as the potency of street drugs get stronger, Maceri said, one can of Narcan is often not enough.

In the search for solutions, the big challenge is that, in many cases, people experiencing homelessness are struggling with more than just a drug dependency. Medical illness, like diabetes, and mental health issues could come into play. One doctor in David's story referred to it as a "tri-morbidity."

Read more about the challenges and proposed solutions in David’s story here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • Trailblazing politician Gloria Molina died Sunday night after a battle with cancer. She was 74. Molina was the first Latina elected to the State Assembly, the L.A. City Council, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. In her positions of power she helped make change across L.A., especially on the East side where she grew up, helping mothers fight pollution in their backyards as well as plans to build a prison in East L.A. She fought for women who had undergone unauthorized sterilizations at the County hospital. Molina was also an artist, a quilter, who advocated for the arts in her district and helped create La Plaza de Cultura y Artes downtown. Read more about her many accomplishments here.
  • What happens when someone is driving on the road and they’re experiencing a mental health crisis? L.A. city and county officials are addressing that question, calling for more unarmed teams to respond to people who are involved in mental health-related traffic incidents. 
  • Last month, my colleague Nick Gerda published a story about the missing Inside Safe transparency reports from the city of L.A. On Friday, the city council voted that they would need to view the reports in order to get additional funding. Read Nick’s story about the move for stricter oversight. 
  • The Community Coalition, a South L.A. nonprofit, is now hosting an art show that centers on how Black and Latino Angelenos have been impacted by the housing crisis. My colleague Julia Barajas wrote about South L.A. Is Still Home, which is on display now through May 20. Check it out. 
  • Linda Oubré, the first Black president of Whittier College, resigned on Friday. The college faced enrollment and revenue declines over the last five years. 
  • My colleague Jackie Orchard wrote about the third annual Culinary Cup, a cook-off competition among students from three community colleges to see who can cook the best dishes with technical skills, flavor and style. 
  • Dementia can have a drastic impact on the finances of older loved ones. Research shows that financial issues could be a potential warning sign of some neurological disorders. Families have to deal with the consequences. 
  • An app that allows migrants to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border is showing system error messages. The technological issues have been making it harder for migrants to make appointments. 
  • The increase of remote work during and after the height of the pandemic has impacted small businesses, like shoe shops. NPR’s Arezou Rezvani explores how the lack of foot traffic has caused small businesses to scale down. 
  • Don’t have anything to do this week except for work? Don’t fear. The list for the best things to do this week is here.
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

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Wait... One More Thing

The Top Three Tea-Sipping Trends

Collage of a mother duck facing three rubber ducks, representing her children. A speech bubble with a heart is coming out of the mother's mouth, symbolizing the advice given by mothers to their children.
(Chandler Cruttenden, Timothy Dykes, Kaz Fantone
Unsplash, NPR)

THREE — A few people share advice from their moms 

One of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was about friendship. She told me: “Aaricka, if you want to have friends, you have to be a friend.” Mother’s Day might be over, but there’s never a bad time to take in some advice from our special ladies. NPR gathered responses from hundreds of folks. They’ve sorted them out and shared nine people’s motherly guidance. Check it out here.

TWO — Pictures and video snippets of Beyoncé’s #RenaissanceWorldTour hit social media 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Beyoncé started her Renaissance tour last Wednesday. Ever since she made her tour debut in Sweden’s largest stadium, Friends Arena in Stockholm, Twitter has been on fire. There have been so many snippets of her giving PEAK GLITZ and GLAM in Europe. It’s hard to believe that she’s been in the game for over two decades. Check out her latest looks on the tour here.

ONE — A flashback to the bubble days in the NBA 

The LA Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Now, they face the Denver Nuggets tomorrow in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The last time the Lakers made it this far was 2020, when they won inside a bubble within the Walt Disney World Resort. Actually, the rest of the playoff picture is reminiscent of 2020, the first year of the pandemic: Boston and Miami in the East, Lakers and the Nuggets in the West.

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