ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, local lawmakers and other community members are calling on the state to take more steps to combat the opioid epidemic.

News conferences were held in Rochester and other cities across the state on Tuesday. 

Organizers are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to take action on preventing overdoses in her first 45 days in office. Their suggested roadmap includes signing the overdose prevention package passed earlier this year and appointing a new health commissioner.

They want addiction to be treated as a mental health issue.

"If we come at with support, if we come at it with love, we come at it with the healthcare that is needed to make people feel whole again and get the help that they need, we can actually make a dent in this," said Sarah Clark of New York's 136th Assembly district.

Monroe County health officials say 238 people died from overdoses in 2020, which is a 31% increase over 2019.