Shutdown Orders Real Reason for Spike in Overdose Deaths

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Erie County Libertarians call on Cuomo, Poloncarz, Brown to take responsibility for drug deaths caused by shutdown mandates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Duane Whitmer | DuaneWhitmer@yahoo.com | (716) 353-5505

July 29, 2020 – BUFFALO, N.Y. – Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz appeared before the Edward A. Rath County Office Building Tuesday flanked by several of his progressive big government enablers. The purpose of the appearance was to explain to local media that, surprising only to Poloncarz and progressives like him, the authoritarian, illegal shutdown orders enthusiastically enforced by the county have imposed a tragic human cost: a substantial spike in drug overdose deaths due to the joblessness and despair forced on Erie County residents by shutdown mandates.

The fact that Andrew Cuomo’s autocratic, illegal shutdown orders carry with them additional social costs is surprising news only to uber progressives like Mark Poloncarz. Progressives like Poloncarz are fanatical about answering every societal challenge with more ham-fisted government force. They are incapable of understanding the negative costs of their authoritarian policy prescriptions and refuse to recognize any limits to government power.

“With Tuesday’s revelation that socially isolated older professionals are drugging themselves to death in record numbers across Erie County, the real costs of authoritarian shutdown mandates have come into sharp focus: jobs, economic dignity, hope for the future, and lives cut tragically short,” Erie County Libertarian Party Chair Duane Whitmer said. “Andrew Cuomo, Mark Poloncarz, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown must take responsibility for the tragic spike in Erie County overdose deaths caused by their shutdown mandates. State and federal courts should hold these progressive autocrats personally liable for the death and despair they’ve created.”

The Buffalo News reported Tuesday that Erie County’s three-year decline in overdose deaths is coming to an end. So far this year, as of Thursday, 44 residents are confirmed dead due to opioid-related overdoses and 127 others are suspected to have died from overdoses. That compares with 156 people who died of an opioid-related fatality all of last year.

At yesterday’s press conference, Poloncarz explained that 13 residents ages 60 and over died of opioid overdoses last year. But 10 individuals in the same age range have already died so far this year. Erie County officials appeared ready to concede that, with more older professionals staying and working from home due to the shutdown orders enforced by the county, social isolation is contributing to increased drug use and overdose fatalities among this demographic and others. However, county government agents stopped well short of admitting responsibility for the death and despair they have caused through shutdown order enforcement.

In a federal lawsuit filed against Cuomo’s shutdown mandates months ago, Erie County Libertarians predicted that the increase in drug overdose deaths now seen in Erie County would be one of many negative consequences of ceding total governmental control to one person: Andrew Cuomo. The lawsuit likewise argues that Cuomo’s shutdown mandates are illegal, given that the state constitution provides no lawful mechanism for the legislature to transfer its lawmaking authority to a single individual. Rather than directly respond to these factual allegations, the Cuomo regime has attempted to simply dismiss the lawsuit, claiming unlimited authority to impose economic destruction and suicide by drug overdose ‘because COVID-19.’

To be clear, Erie County Libertarians do not question the science supporting the efficacy of social distancing and mask wearing amid a global pandemic. However, the party adamantly opposes such prescriptions being imposed on citizens through government force.

This is not a Communist county, at least not yet. In a constitutional republic, the government has a responsibility to make a reasoned argument that citizens should adopt certain behaviors to combat COVID-19, and then allow those citizens to decide for themselves if the government is credible and if its guidance should be followed. Instead of taking this approach, government agents at all levels decided earlier this year to impose blanket shutdown mandates across the state through force.

Clearly, credible science has demonstrated there are select ‘at risk’ populations vulnerable to death resulting from COVID-19. Therefore, members of these at-risk populations have a personal responsibility to take the measures required to protect themselves from COVID-19 and adjust their behaviors accordingly, not the full remainder of society. There is no acceptable reason that all of society had to shut down this year so that a select group of at-risk individuals did not have to adjust their personal behaviors and routines. There never should have been a state-imposed shutdown. This is a matter of reasoned, individual choice, not government mandate.

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The Erie County Libertarian Party is committed to America’s heritage of freedom: individual liberty and personal responsibility, a free-market economy of abundance and prosperity, a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade.

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