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Monroe County says fatal heroin and fentanyl overdoses dropped in 2019

Fatal overdoses in Monroe County involving heroin, fentanyl and related substances were down in 2019 compared to the previous two years.

That’s according to an annual report released by the Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner on Friday.

The report indicates that 181 people died last year because of overdosing on those drugs. That compared to 195 deaths from overdose in 2018 and 220 deaths in 2017.

Officials say that overdoses accounted for 20% of all deaths investigated in Monroe County in 2019, which was comparable to previous years.

But one troubling statistic, according to Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza, is that the proportion of African American individuals who were affected increased from 13.3% of overall overdose fatalities in 2018 to 21% in 2019.

Mendoza said although 181 deaths are still too many, he is pleased to see the overall numbers decline. And he said that he is particularly concerned about the impact the opioid crisis is having on African American residents. The commissioner said that he is “committed to working with Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and my partners across the community to address public health disparities like this and to expand mental health and addiction services to help those who are suffering before it is too late.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.