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Santa Clara County supervisors explore providing Narcan at public libraries

SAN JOSE -- On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors took a step to move forward with a plan to make Narcan more accessible in public spaces.

The board approved a referral from Supervisor Otto Lee that urged the county to seek options for providing Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, in Santa Clara County libraries. County administration will have a report for the Board of Supervisors at their April 4th meeting that details the costs and implementation measures needed to supply the libraries with Narcan kits.

"This is about saving peoples' lives. And in my case, in my thinking, this is a no brainer," Lee said. "I'm hoping that these good ideas will spread all over California and the country, because the need for having Narcan to save lives is absolutely crucial everywhere."

Santa Clara County has previously made Narcan accessible at high schools and the county jail.

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths jumped from 25 to 125 in Santa Clara County from 2019-2021, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

To Lee, the push to provide more tools to fight the fentanyl crisis is personal.

"It really is. My first cousin, two years ago actually, passed away from an overdose. I would say if Narcan was made available, I think he might still be around today," Lee said.

Lisa Marquez, who lives in Gilroy, lost her son Fernando to an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020. He was 17 years old.

"He was a funny kid, a good friend. Just loved to make people laugh. Really smart," she said. "One night, my whole life changed."

She says he took a pill that  he thought was Xanax, but it turned out to be another drug and fentanyl. By the time someone could get him Narcan, it was too late.

"He passed away in the ambulance right on the way to the hospital," she said.

Marquez is all for making Narcan more accessible throughout the community.

"If it's going to save somebody's child and save a family from going through what my family is going through, I think it's a great idea," she said.

She's like to also see more education throughout the community about the dangers of fentanyl, especially among young adults.

"Education is the number one step in tackling this problem, because it's here. Fentanyl is here. Young adults think it's not going to happen to me," she said. "I'll feel a little better when I hear of more schools actually adopting some type of curriculum to teach these kids how dangerous it is."

She tries to turn pain into purpose, and hopes she can help other families by sharing her son's story.

"It's going to save somebody's family. Even if it's just one family, I'm thankful for that," she said.

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