Erie Co. Exec. issues emergency warning amid opiate crisis

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A shocking number of deaths related to opioid use has prompted action from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Poloncarz issued an emergency warning regarding the opiate crisis in the county Tuesday morning at ECMC.

“Having been updated with information about a recent spike in opioid overdose deaths within the past week, we felt it was important to address this issue today and come together as a community to issue an emergency warning for what has become a serious health crisis,” said Poloncarz. “The region’s epidemic of opioid abuse is something that cannot be ignored.”

Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, U.S. Attorney William Hochul and DEA agent John Flickinger were also present for the announcement.

In January, Poloncarz issued an executive order to create the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force.

“Heroin traffickers are not chemists, nor is there such a thing as a ‘safe’ batch of heroin,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt. “Our communities need to be aware of the dangers of heroin, especially the practice of mixing heroin and fentanyl which can lead to fatal overdoses.  DEA urges communities to increase the awareness of the deadly dangers lurking within heroin glassines.”

As of February 9, 23 opiate-related overdose deaths have occurred in the county since January 29.

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