Advocates, lawmakers react to CDC overdose death data

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Advocates and lawmakers are responding to the CDC’s data released Wednesday showing United States drug overdose deaths hit a record in 2020. 

The CDC’s nationwide provisional overdose death count for last year was about 93,000. For New York State, that number was about 5,100. 

In a statement, a spokesperson from the New York State Department of Health said, despite the state’s efforts, “New York, like many states, has experienced an increase in opioid overdoses, as indicated by increases in naloxone administrations, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Advocates with VOCAL-NY are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign bills aimed at preventing overdose deaths that the legislature has passed. Those include syringe decriminalization and expansion, medication-assisted treatment for those incarcerated, and getting rid of prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment for individuals enrolled in Medicaid

“We’ve known that the overdose crisis has been accelerating pretty severely for the past several years now. And COVID, you know, exacerbated the lack of infrastructure that would sort of turn the tides on the overdose crisis,” said VOCAL-NY Drug Policy Organizer Biz Berthy.

Meanwhile, Senator Pete Harckham, who chairs the chamber’s Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, is calling for President Joe Biden and Governor Cuomo to each declare a state of emergency to fight the overdose epidemic. In a statement he said, “Over four times the number of people died last year from drug overdoses than from gun violence in the United States.”

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