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Erie County seeing spike in opioid-related deaths

So far there have been 44, and 45 percent of those are from people mixing opioids with cocaine.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says so far, the county has had 44 opioid-related deaths just this year. 

He says if things continue at this rate, there will be more overdose deaths than in 2019.

"It is concerning after all the work that we've done the last few years to see opioid deaths rise. And what is most concerning is that it appears to be not from traditional opiate users," Poloncarz said. 

He says cocaine users are now mixing the substance with fentanyl.

According to Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein, 45% of the people who died of overdoses have mixed the two drugs. Even more startling, she says, is the fact that many of them are over the age of 60.

She says some of it can be attributed to the pandemic. 

"We think that people are at home, they're alone, struggled with so many losses and are using cocaine recreationally, something fun," Burstein said. 

She urges everyone to carry Narcan, which they can still get during the COVID-19 pandemic. To request it, text 716-225-5473. 

She says the only question that will be asked is how the Erie County Health Department can get it to you. 

She also says schools, businesses and organizations can request an emergency Narcan kit for free. 

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