Source: Orleans Parish Coroner's Office
New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse says New Orleans could be on track, perhaps for the first-time ever, for the number of opiate-related overdose deaths to eclipse its murder rate. As of Aug. 1, 90 people have died from opiate-related overdose deaths, including the rising use of fentanyl as well as heroin and prescription opioids — compared to 93 murders during the same time frame. During his 2017 budget presentation at the New Orleans City Council Oct. 26, Rouse compared 2016's rates to last year, when there were 164 murders and 63 opiate overdoses. "We're in the middle of an epidemic with regard to fentanyl, heroin and opiate overdoses," he said. "It is taxing this office and running us a little ragged." The office performs roughly 1,200 autopsies a year, investigates 3,500 deaths and performs 2,000 psychological evaluations, all within a $3 million budget. Rouse asked — as he did for budgets in 2015 and 2016 — for increases to pay for 24-hour coverage of the front desk, burial expenses for indigent people and mental health services. Rouse anticipates the opening of the VA Hospital in Mid-City "is going to break [the office]" without additional funding for staff to perform those evaluations.