An outreach worker in Waterloo Region says front line workers are traumatized after witnessing a surge of overdose deaths.

Police said Tuesday that five people died of suspected overdoses in one week.

Jesse Burt, who witnessed one of those deaths just days ago, said more needs to be done.

"I'm watching people around me die," he said. "Nothing seems to be changing."

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Burt said vulnerable people are isolated and more likely use alone.

"People are more spread out and separated than ever," he said. "Our drug supply is more toxic than ever."

Michael Parkinson from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council said he was notified about the recent surge in deaths.

"I got the first call on Friday night, the second call on Saturday and, as you know, the calls kept coming," he said.

Police issued a warning after reports of dark red/maroon or black fentanyl circulating in the community.

Paramedics said they responded to 239 opioid overdoses in September and October, more than double the number from that same time period in 2019.

There have been 78 suspected overdose deaths in Waterloo Region in 2020.

"How many people have to die before something happens, efficiently and pragmatically," said Pete McKechnie with the Sanguen Health Centre.

Burt said he's calling for more funding and said his clients are making requests.

"They're asking for a cleaner supply of drugs, they're asking for prescriptions and they're not being heard," he said.

The Sanguen Health Centre offers services for those in need, including a harm reduction van, basic food supplies and healthcare.

Kitchener's Consumption and Treatment Services site is also open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.