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Bernalillo County Declares Emergency Over Opioid Overdoses

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Bernalillo County Commissioners are declaring an emergency over the county’s high level of opioid overdoses. 

The measure to declare a public health emergency was co-sponsored by all five commissioners. Maggie Hart-Stebbins is commissioner for District 3.

“We have seen consistent, explosive growth in the number of individuals in Bernalillo County who are overdosing from opioids and heroin,” she said.

The county’s overdose rate is lower than some other parts of the state. Still, Hart-Stebbins said three times as many people die from overdoses than traffic accidents.

She said the commission was compelled to make the declaration because not enough is being done to address the problem locally.

“It’s a statement by the commission that we consider this a priority, and that we commit our resources to taking proactive steps towards making a dent in this,” she said.

The emergency declaration isn’t a legally binding resolution. There are no policy changes or money attached to it. But Hart-Stebbins said it’s part of a larger push by the county to bolster public health funding and infrastructure.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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