Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein discussed the 50% increase in fatal opioid overdoses in Erie County in 2020 at a press conference this week. After a three-year decline, these rates dramatically increasing is alarming, especially when the populations most affected are low-income and minority communities.
Poloncarz attributes these deaths to the inability for the county’s Opiate Epidemic Task Force to reach citizens and provide resources for addiction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While addressing these unfortunate circumstances, what they failed to provide was solutions, which does nothing to help Erie County residents.
ECLP Chairman Duane Whitmer said:
“I am not surprised that a bureaucrat and a politician–two people whose paychecks never stopped during the pandemic–are surprised that overdoses are going up. This is an unintended consequence of the lockdown; locking people in their homes and preventing them from working takes away their sense of purpose. Erie County residents who may have had addiction in their past are now stuck home, depressed with no routine to help them with the struggles of recovery.”
In July 2020 the Erie County Libertarian Party issued a statement expressing a concern for the uptick in overdoses which fell on deaf ears. Whitmer continued on to say in his statement “it looks like once again, our paycheck cashing, parasitic politicians and bureaucrats who are raking in the overtime pay and celebrity status, have failed the people who need help the most.”
The Erie County Libertarian Party is the Erie County affiliate of the Libertarian Party of New York, fighting for smaller government, decentralization, and the individual.