In about 12 hours Wednesday, more than 30 people - most of whom had been on the New Haven green - were treated for overdoses of a drug known as "K2" laced a with a synthetic opioid, police said.
Most of the overdoses were on the New Haven Green, a historic downtown park near Yale University.
No deaths have been reported thus far, but three people remain in critical condition in a local hospital, according to FOX 61, the local FOX affiliate in Hartford.
New Haven fire chief John Alston said responders received calls just after 8 a.m. reporting multiple individuals experiencing overdose symptoms, including unconsciousness, vomiting and nausea.
City officials in New Haven said the 37-year-old alleged dealer, who was on parole, was suspected of handing out free samples of a drug which contained powerful synthetic cannabinoids. Investigators are trying to determine exactly what sickened them and tens of other victims.
As Fontana was talking to reporters late in the morning, the fire radio crackled with reports of two more people down on the green, and police, medics and firefighters ran or drove to aid the latest victims a few hundred yards away.
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Authorities say they are unsure as to where the drugs came from, he said.
A drug dealer has been arrested after 76 people overdosed in the space of 24 hours in CT, as national figures showed drug-related deaths had hit a record high.
Police said they arrested a man believed to be connected to at least some of the overdoses.
Some patients treated at the Green did not initially respond to Naloxone, and needed a higher concentration of the overdose reversal drug once they arrived at hospitals, Bogucki said.
An official said there were 114 calls for people needing to go to a hospital this week.
The mass overdose came as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional figures showing 70,689 people died from drug abuse past year. The cause of the overdose was probably a virulent batch of K2.
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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state departments of Public Health and Mental Health and Addiction Services were helping New Haven officials.
Bad batches of the synthetic marijuana "K2" has been blamed for dozens of overdoses and even several deaths across the country.
The majority of this week's medical emergencies occurred at the green, Campbell said on Friday.
Parker, who was arrested Wednesday, was charged with drug crimes after being found in possession of the K2 bags, Campbell said.
"Today's emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals", the Democratic governor said in a statement. The city also saw more than a dozen synthetic marijuana overdoses in late January. No deaths were reported in either outbreak. He said the Green has become "a place of despair" and "no longer an attraction for families or economic development".
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