The New York state Senate on Wednesday will hold a public hearing to assess the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on addiction and overdose deaths in New York. 

Democratic lawmakers who control the chamber announced Tuesday the hearing, which comes as overdose deaths in the last year have spiked, a trend that coincided with the onset the pandemic. 

“We have seen startling statistics on how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated opioid misuse and overdoses during this pandemic," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "Opioid misuse and addiction are an ongoing crisis that is destroying families and communities throughout New York. While we have taken steps to address this issue, there is more to be done, and I commend Senators Rivera, Harckham and Brouk, for co-chairing this hearing and discussions to continue combating the opioid epidemic.”

Public health officials and anti-addiction advocates have been alarmed by the rise in overdose deaths during the broader public health crisis, with some attributing the fatalities to a loss of connections with family and friends, as well as the stress created by the upheaval of the pandemic. 

The hearing will review New York's overdose death rates with the goal of finding best practcies and gaps in the current system. 

“It is vital that this Joint Task Force hear regularly from stakeholders and those on the frontlines of Substance Use Disorder treatment, recovery, overdose prevention and harm reduction, so we can work together and save the lives of our loved ones and neighbors," said Sen. Peter Harckham, the Democratic chairman of the chamber's committee on addiction and substance abuse.