Lawmakers rally in Rochester over overdose deaths

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester-area lawmakers and advocates called for “not one more overdose” during a rally on Ormond Street Monday.

Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D-Rochester) joined leaders of VOCAL-NY to demand action when it comes to preventable overdose deaths.

“The overdose crisis is not a new phenomenon,” Meeks said. “It is a direct symptom of the war on drugs that has waged in our communities for over the last 50 years. It is time to abandon the war on people.”

Meeks highlighted action taken by the New York State Legislature.

It passed three overdose prevention bills before the most recent session closed.

The legislation tackles treatment in prisons and jails, syringe decriminalization, and removing prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment for people enrolled in Medicaid.

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows more than 5,100 New Yorkers died from overdoses in 2020.

VOCAL-NY says the data for Rochester is still being tallied, but so far there were nearly 200 overdose deaths in Rochester.

Last year, there were a record 93,000 deadly overdoses in the United States.