Queens DA Melinda Katz
By Forum Staff
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz on Monday released the following statement regarding the opioid crisis in the time of a global pandemic.
“As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 – more commonly referred to as COVID-19 – continues to sweep across our country and particularly in our home borough of Queens, we must keep in mind that another epidemic was already on the rise and is still one of the greatest public health threats facing this generation. Opioid addiction has led to an increase in overdoses, and the numbers have not subsided during this pandemic. In just five months, Queens has had a 56-percent increase in overdose deaths compared to 2019.
Opioids are extremely deadly, particularly when illicitly manufactured with fentanyl and fentanyl analogs and derivatives. In 2018, Queens County registered 251 overdose deaths; in 2019, there were 265 overdoses. Of those 265 deaths last year, 155 were from fentanyl or fentanyl analogs and derivatives. For 2020, thus far, we have had 86 suspected overdoses in Queens. Overall, our nation is still in the grips of an overdose epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 alone, there were over 67,000 deaths involving opioids in the U.S.
Katz added, “We are living through an extraordinary time. We are fighting battles no one would have expected, but still we push forward with hope and unrelenting resolve to succeed. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has made the opioid epidemic even worst for those fighting for their sobriety.”
Still, though, during this time, there are avenues to help those fighting to stay drug free. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services updated its outpatient treatment programs to maximize the use of telehealth services with additional guidelines on in-person interactions. In collaboration, both OASAS and the NYC Department of Health have rolled out a methadone delivery program for patients with COVID-19.”