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Telling sign of heroin epidemic: Seattle-area county runs out of needle cleanup kits

Finding used needles in Everett can occur almost daily. (Photo: KOMO News)

EVERETT, Wash. (KOMO) -- A telling sign of how bad the heroin epidemic has become is how fast needle cleanup kits are going in Snohomish County.

Health district leaders said the kits ran out within two days, and they are working to get more supplies.

At Bible Baptist Church, like in most parts of Everett, finding used needles is almost becoming a daily discovery.

Groundskeeper Robert Reith said he’s seen a spike in the last few weeks.

"I found needles right where you are standing,” said Reith to KOMO News. “That's deeply concerning to us. We want to make sure that some little kids or anybody isn’t going to reach down and pick that up and get infected. We just want to keep everybody safe."

Reith wanted a safe place to put all the needles he picks up so he found out the Snohomish Health District was giving away needle cleanup kits.

However, the district is already out of the 50 kits it started with, and there is a waiting list.

Now officials are planning to make 1,000 more kits to keep up with the demand.

“There is not one single solution that will solve the opioid epidemic. It’s going to take all the community partners, public health, law enforcement,” said Heather Thomas with the Snohomish County Health District.

The kits are stocked up with sharps containers, eye gear, puncture-resistant gloves and hand sanitizer.


The health district partnered with the City of Everett to make a video showing the step-by-step process of picking up needles.

“We wanted to make sure that when they're doing that, they're doing so safely,” said Thomas. “And they have the supplies and proper disposal method of what to do with those needles when they're done."

Officials hope to get more kits by Thursday or Friday so the community can keep fighting the bigger problem.

People can still get just the sharps containers from the Snohomish County Health District until officials have more supplies.

Snohomish County officials also said they reached a big milestone in the fight against heroin

First responders have now reversed a hundred overdoses using the reversal drug, Narcan.

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