New York State officials are among health and other authorities concerned about a jump in opioid overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorney General Letitia James says the numbers reinforce that all money coming through drug manufacturer settlements should be channeled to local communities for opioid abatement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced that overdose deaths surpassed 93,000 last year in the United States, which is a record high.  Easy availability of the drugs combined with the stress from lockdowns and other components of the pandemic and the shut-down of many support services is blamed for the new record.

Adam Berry, Getty Images
Adam Berry, Getty Images

Meanwhile, Broome County has a new text alert program to try to combat overdoses.  The Health Department is partnering with Partnership to End Addiction on the new effort where residents can receive free SPIKE Alert notification on their mobile devices when there is an increase in overdoses in an area.

It is hoped the text alert allow for quick intervention by parents, loved ones, caregivers, medical professionals, community groups and first responders.  The pilot program is anonymous. Residents can sign up by texting: SPIKE to 1-855-963-5669 and follow the prompts.

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Residents are also reminded to have a Narcan kit on hand and get training on how to use the overdose reversal. The Broome Opioid Awareness Council says people can also call ahead and go to their local pharmacy and use the Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program to obtain an overdose antidote without a prescription from a medical provider.

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