Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said the county is preparing to declare the local heroin epidemic a public health emergency.

Garnar on Thursday said the formal action is planned for next week.


Broome County Executive Jason Garnar prior to a radio interview on January 5, 2017. [Bob Joseph/WNBF News][/caption]

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program, Garnar said he views the problems associated with heroin as a public health crisis.

During his campaign, Garnar had called on then-County Executive Debra Preston to make a public health emergency declaration after several dozen people died of overdoses in the first half of 2016.

Garnar said Rebecca Kaufman, the newly-appointed county health department director, will be overseeing the Broome Opioid Abuse Council.

The county executive said he believes it is important for someone with a public health background to lead the council's efforts to assist people affected by the epidemic.

Garnar said the "health emergency" declaration could help the county obtain additional financial assistance from the state and federal governments to help address the crisis.

Garnar said Broome County needs more money to provide long-term treatment for those who are addicted and to support law enforcement efforts.

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