WATCH – Human interest story –
August 5, 2020 – “According to numbers I received from the 911 center, we’ve had 277 911 calls involving overdoses. Last year, for the whole year of 2019, I think we had 360. So we are on course to expand on last year’s number,” said Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens.
Walters says people with addiction need community and fellowship. He says it’s a crucial part of their recovery and the pandemic has largely taken them away.
“Different buildings have different rules and regulations. And people just aren’t willing to have people in those buildings and that’s unfortunate because fellowship is a big, big deal when it comes to addiction recovery,” said Walters.
On top of that, Walters says fear and hopelessness created around the virus has pushed people recovering from addiction to make bad decisions. He and the sheriff suspect the stimulus checks sent to millions of Americans this spring allowed many of them to make those bad decisions. “During the month of May we had 83 in Wood County, which was up from 35 in April and if you will recall that’s when the stimulus checks were starting to get mailed out. So, I’m sure there is a correlation there between that and the stimulus checks.
Walters has teamed up with J. Morgan Leach to try to help people with addiction find some community again by putting on the Fifth Annual Parkersburg Memorial Walk. In years past, the event has drawn hundreds of people. Leach says it is legal for them to host such an event despite Governor Jim Justice’s executive order limiting the size of certain gatherings.
“Now the governor’s office did amend that stay at home order to allow for more broader gatherings that are not purely social in nature.” said Leach. “ does have that higher purpose. There are more things going on than just a social aspect. We’re literally trying to reach out to people who are overdosing or committing suicide at a higher rate than they would have been because of the isolationist nature of this pandemic.” said Leach.
Organizers hope the event will be something positive in a world they say is full of negativity.