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Rochester and the Finger Lakes get more than $9M in a first payment from the opioid settlement

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
In 2020, 238 people died from drug overdoses in Monroe County.

Rochester and the Finger Lakes region are getting their first payments from New York's legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies that played a role in the opioid crisis.

On Tuesday, State Attorney General Letitia James announced that the region as a whole will receive more than $9 million in this first round, with over $5.5 million going to Monroe County and about $390,000 to the city of Rochester.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the settlement funds will never bring back the loved ones who were lost in the epidemic or erase the suffering that was endured, but they will fund innovative approaches to solving the crisis.

He said the county is creating a trust fund for the money, "so that not one penny will be spent for the purpose unrelated to providing addiction services like prevention, treatment, and recovery."

Part of the funds will be used to expand a special opioid response team to a 24-hour operation, Bello said.

The IMPACT team, which was launched in 2020 in response to the opioid epidemic, includes outreach coordinators who work directly with individuals struggling with substance use disorder and their families.

In 2020, Monroe County had 238 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses. Bello expects the death toll to be even higher for last year when those numbers come out.

"These statistics, though, they aren't just numbers," he said. "These are people. These are family members, loved ones, friends, who are struggling with addiction that ended in tragedy."

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.