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.

Monroe County Heroin Task Force

More than twice as many people died of opioid overdoses in Monroe County this April and March compared to the same months last year, according to data from the county’s heroin task force.

The combined 2019 death toll for the two months was 12. During the same period this year, the county recorded 29 fatal overdoses.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Favata, the head of the county’s heroin task force, said the social isolation brought on by distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 is likely driving some people toward drug use as a coping mechanism.

Gino Fanelli/CITY Newspaper

Deaths from heroin in Monroe County have shrunk by a wide margin over the past two years, but users are still overdosing at roughly the same rate, according to new data from the county's Heroin Task Force.

James Brown WXXI

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello claims that County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic do not meet the scale of the problem. The Democrat, who is challenging Dinolfo, the Republican incumbent this fall, called the epidemic the largest public health crisis to hit Rochester in his lifetime. 

“This is one of the largest public health crisis to hit our community in my lifetime and I think the response from our government needs to be scaled to match that level of emergency,” said Bello.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, has re-introduced a bill that toughens penalties for people convicted of trafficking fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

Reed wants traffickers to face the death penalty when the drugs they sell kill a user. He re-introduced a bill that adds the options of capital punishment and life imprisonment to existing drug laws.


Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is asking City Council to authorize a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The proposal would see the city’s attorney work with  a New York City based law firm, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, to represent the city.

It would not cost Rochester money out-of-pocket, and if the city were to be successful in its suit, the New York City law firm would not get more than 25% of whatever money is collected from the opioid industry.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Over 1,000 overdoses have been reported in the last year in Monroe County. That’s according to the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, at their one-year progress report Tuesday morning.

In the first year of the task force, ranging from February 1st 2018 to January 25th of this year, 159 of the 1,101 overdoses have been fatal.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says the focus of the first year was to educate the community, cordon off the problem, do intense enforcement and secure recovery partners


Monroe County has launched a program that law enforcement officials said will help people with drug addictions get into treatment programs instead of going to jail.

Project HOPE, which stands for Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education, is different than other court-mandated drug programs, said District Attorney Sandra Doorley.


“Those who are eligible for Project HOPE won’t even see the inside of a courtroom, so their charges, ultimately, will never be filed with the court and never be prosecuted,” Doorley said.


New York state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

A New York state health department program that enables hospitals to surpass the usual limit on the number of opioid-addicted patients who can receive in-hospital detox services has been extended another year, but Monroe County hospitals are still not participating.



The death toll of the nationwide opioid epidemic is still highest among men between 25 and 45, but new research suggests it’s growing increasingly deadly for the youngest members of the population — including infants.