The Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force is calling for the emergency proclamation, before more people end up dead
Politicians in Staten Island, where half of New York City’s fentanyl deaths occur, are urging the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency following a troubling year that witnessed approximately 150 fatal overdoses linked to this powerful drug.
The Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force issued a report on Wednesday, urging Governor Kathy Hochul to formalize a proclamation to prevent further loss of lives.
The task force consists of over 60 individuals, ranging from borough and community leaders to police officials, healthcare professionals, and individuals who have personally experienced the tragic loss of loved ones due to fentanyl poisoning.
“The scourge of our time is substance use disorder, and our actions in handling this issue will be judged by future generations,” stated Dr. Brahim Ardolic, executive director at Staten Island University Hospital.
According to Ardolic, there is a lack of national attention and resources being allocated towards the issue at hand. In fact, Staten Island itself is facing a significant shortage in terms of resources when compared to the rest of the country.
By the end of this month, officials project that a staggering 155 individuals will have tragically lost their lives to drug overdoses in Staten Island in 2023. Over the past seven years, the devastating toll of overdoses has claimed the lives of over 830 individuals in the borough.
Staten Islanders have endured the devastating impact of fentanyl for an extended period of time. Borough President Vito Fossella expressed his concern, stating, “For far too long, Staten Islanders have suffered from the effects of fentanyl.” With the aim of addressing this crisis, Fossella emphasized the importance of collaboration with District Attorney McMahon and other community partners. He further highlighted the task force’s objectives, which include raising awareness, offering treatment to those in need, and ultimately mitigating the fentanyl crisis.
Fentanyl, a drug commonly mixed with substances like heroin and cocaine on the streets, is thought to be responsible for more than 80 percent of overdose deaths in New York City.
The task force, which has been active for five months, emphasized in its report that they refuse to let the drug epidemic be ignored in our public and political discussions. They are determined not to accept the fact that we must simply tolerate the alarming number of drug overdoses as an inevitable part of American life.
If Hochul proclaims a state of emergency, New York will have the ability to swiftly implement the recommendations provided in the task force’s report.
Immediate action should be taken to halt the production of fentanyl and prevent its trafficking into New York. The report emphasizes the importance of sharing information more readily among state agencies to facilitate a coordinated and more effective response.
The report recommends that the state government should broaden the availability of community programs aimed at helping individuals struggling with addiction. It also emphasizes the need to actively seek federal grants for drug prevention efforts and address any existing gaps in medical and treatment services within the borough.