The average age of Summit County residents who went to a hospital after overdosing during the past seven days was teetering on the edge of middle age — 39.7.

Of the 45 people who sought emergency room help between Oct. 20 and Oct. 26, nearly 65 percent were men and 20 percent lived in the 44203 ZIP code, an area stretching from Portage Lakes to Wadsworth that has been particularly hard hit by the opiate epidemic.

There’s nothing new in those numbers released by Summit County Public Health officials. They follow an ongoing trend.

But these overdoses happened during a week when many leaders — local and federal — voiced new concern for the opiate epidemic, along with some action.

On Wednesday, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro declared a state of emergency because of the opiate epidemic and announced new initiatives to combat it, including a partnership with two nonprofits to build an inpatient treatment center and sober living community on the site of the former Edwin Shaw hospital in Lakemore.

The county also will soon file a lawsuit against drug makers, she said, that have “maliciously flooded our community” with the addictive substances that helped create the opiate crisis, an epidemic that could cost county taxpayers more than $250 million.

Other Summit County municipalities, which are spending more taxpayer dollars to clean up and battle opiates, are expected to joint the litigation.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump also declared a 90-day public health emergency over the opioid epidemic, but stopped short of declaring a broader national emergency.

The declaration unleashes the federal government to redirect resources in various ways, but provides no influx of new money to pay for addiction services, law enforcement, education or other issues connected to the drug crisis.

This week, Ohio State researchers revealed a new study showing the state has resources to meet only 20 percent to 40 percent of the 90,000 to 172,000 Ohioans addicted to opiates.

It could take a couple of years to open a treatment center at the former Edwin Shaw.

Yet Trump’s effort to lift a Medicaid rule limiting the size of drug treatment centers to no more than 16 beds could yield help sooner, Cheri Walter, CEO of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Authorities, told the Columbus Dispatch.

“It’s going to make beds available for the opioid epidemic very quickly,” she said. “And a lot of people are in need of services, particularly in a residential-type setting.”

Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or