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Steuben County will now publish monthly overdose reports

Boxes of naloxone, also known as Narcan, which reverses opioid overdose.
Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo
Boxes of naloxone, also known as Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses.

The county announced it will now publish the number of local overdoses each month to raise awareness about the overdose epidemic.

Twenty-two people overdosed just this January. One overdose was fatal.

The decision to publish monthly overdose data was inspired by the health department’s approach to COVID-19 deaths — every time someone dies due to complications from COVID-19, the county sends out an announcement.

Lorelei Wagner, Steuben County’s public health education coordinator, said she hopes the monthly reports will humanize those who overdose.

“We've heard a lot about the opioid epidemic, but what does that actually mean here?" Wagner said. "Having those numbers and being able to really think, ‘If there were 22 reported overdoses in January, that's almost one every other day, or more than one every other day.'"

Steuben health officials said overdoses more than doubled from 2020 to 2022. The county saw 289 overdoses last year, 12 of them fatal. Officials said actual numbers could be much higher, given that some overdoses go unreported.

The county's reported data is based on reports from local first responders — so if someone overdoses but no one calls 911, the incident goes unreported.

New York State also tracks and reports data on overdoses, but it doesn't release the numbers quite as frequently as Steuben County will.

Steuben county will also soon offer online training on how to safely administer Narcan, an opioid overdose-reversing drug.

After completing the training, people will be able to receive Narcan in the mail. Wagner said the county hopes to launch the training program next week.

The health department is also working to have Narcan distribution boxes set up in public spaces throughout Steuben county.