USDA releases new interactive tool to track opioid crisis

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- The ongoing opioid crisis, both in Wisconsin and across the nation, has been reported on for some time. But for many, it still doesn't quite hit home.

This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new tool that helps put the crisis in perspective at a county level. The tool was designed to help community leaders develop solutions for the opioid crisis, but it also provides an insightful context to understand the epidemic.

The online tool overlays drug and opioid overdose death rates with socio-economic demographics by county across the nation. The data provided covers 2012 through 2016.

For Marathon County, 57 people died from drug overdoses during that time period. Thirty-two -well over half of those deaths--were from opioid overdoses. That's a rate of 13.7 deaths for every 100,000 people.

In Newschannel 7's viewing area, Vilas County is the hardest hit, at least from the available data. While they've only experienced 16 drug overdose deaths, the rate comes to 26.1 deaths per 100,000 in the population.

Other Wisconsin counties have experienced even higher rates of overdose deaths. In Milwaukee County, its death rate is 37.7 per 100,000 in population.

But, their total death count by overdose from 2012 to 2016 comes to 1,189.

To review the data and compare death rates against county demographic, Click here