August 25, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Jasmine Budnella, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-480-5262
Mariah McGough, Mariah@vocal-ny.org, 203-470-9979
THERE IS NO TIME LEFT: GOVERNOR HOCHUL MUST LEAD ON ENDING THE OVERDOSE CRISIS IN NEW YORK IN FIRST 45 DAYS
VOCAL-NY is Releasing a Drug Policy Roadmap for Governor Hochul’s 45 Days in Office
Over 31,000 New Yorkers Died From Preventable Overdose Under Cuomo’s Tenure, Last Year the Highest Recorded Surge and Deaths in History With Over 5,100 Lives Lost
NEW YORK — In response to newly sworn-in Governor Hochul’s inaugural address that centered the preventable overdose crisis, VOCAL-NY released a drug policy roadmap laying out how the governor can immediately course-correct Cuomo’s overdose crisis in her 45 day transition period. VOCAL-NY’s immediate demands include:
Sign the Overdose Prevention Package passed by the state lawmakers in 2021.
Authorize the five Overdose Prevention Center pilots stalled by Cuomo.
Appoint a new Commissioner of the Department of Health that has expertise in racial justice and harm reduction.
Declare a Public Health Emergency to Release Funding to the AIDS Institute to scale-up a robust harm reduction infrastructure.
Reject policies that are rooted in fear mongering, criminalization, and lack scientific support.
“Governor Hochul highlighting and centering her shared pain of the insurmountable loss from the overdose crisis is a stark departure from the Cuomo era, and it can’t stop there,” said Jasmine Budnella, VOCAL-NY’s Director of Drug Policy. “New York State was known as a beacon of hope and innovation for harm reduction during the HIV crisis — only to have progress reversed, solutions blocked, and the fragile drug-user health infrastructure demolished under the last administration.There is no time left for New York State to sidestep how to address the overdose crisis. Governor Hochul must move with urgency.
We’ve laid out a roadmap for the newly-inaugurated governor because we are determined to work alongside the administration to turn the tide on the overdose crisis and restore New York’s legacy of leading on harm reduction. We’ve long known the solutions that work, and we are hopeful Hochul will lead on these policies to get our state back on track. These immediate steps cannot wait any longer: We urge Governor Hochul to act swiftly and establish a reputation as a caring and compassionate governor that prioritizes the health of marginalized New Yorkers.”
New York State is in an extreme overdose crisis. Overdose continues to kill more New Yorkers than car accidents, suicides, and homicides combined. The most recent CDC data devastatingly shows that over 5,100 New Yorkers died from a preventable overdose in 2020 – the worst year in recorded history. Every 1 hour and 48 minutes, a New Yorker dies from a preventable overdose. Overdose within Black and Brown communities in particular have continued to rise, and access to services remain fraught with barriers.
During the height of the pandemic, as overdoses surged, Governor Cuomo’s withholding of funds allocated under FY21 budget contracts to syringe service programs resulted in staff furloughs and a manufactured syringe/supply shortage that led to HIV clusters in areas of the state, and an increase of new hepatitis C infections across the state.
Since 2018, Cuomo promised the authorization to pilot five Overdose Prevention Centers – four in New York City and one in Ithaca – only to stall the programs while overdoses continued to skyrocket.
During this legislative session, the Senate and the Assembly heeded the call for urgent action to address the overdose crisis by passing three long overdue Overdose Prevention Package bills that await the Governor’s signature. Full memo on the package can be viewed here.