BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell joined Broome County Executive Jason Garnar to make a major announcement Wednesday afternoon related to the opioid epidemic in our area.
In a 2 p.m. news conference, Cornwell said deadly overdoses are increasing at alarming rates, with 10 deaths in the past month alone, some due to Fentanyl. Cornwell said that includes six deaths in the past 10 days.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used for severe pain, and is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
“Some of these synthetics don’t come back on preliminary toxicology screens,” said Cornwell who added it’s a “new emergency.” “We have to wait for lab reports to come back and it takes too long so part of this executive order by the county executive will speed up that process so we can track specifically what types of drugs are causing the death.”
Garnar said Fentanyl test kits would be helpful, and are using state and county resources to help identify what is causing the heightened drug overdose deaths in Broome County, and where it’s coming from.
Cornwell said until more information comes out from collaborative efforts starting Thursday, it is unknown if the Fentanyl is a “bad batch,” or being streamlined into the county from outside dealers.
“We have two goals, to get this deadly Fentanyl out of our community, and to save lives,” said Garnar.
According to Garnar, the move will allow county departments to direct their resources to the “deadly Fentanyl emergency.”
“Without knowing what’s happening, you can’t make a plan to correct it,” he said.
Cornwell said some strands of Fentanyl aren’t scientifically categorized as controlled substances, and the different drug forms must be first identified before prosecuting anyone.
The district attorney said he and his team is focusing on drugged drivers, which pose a serious threat to other drivers, pedestrians and the rest of the community.
The news conference was streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below.