Erie County health leaders say the number of overdose deaths for 2017 is lower than the previous year’s. 

County officials have determined that 251 people died of an opioid overdose in Erie County in 2017- compared to 301 in 2016. 

That’s a drop of more than 15 percent. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the data “encouraging” during a Friday press conference. 

He credited the county’s addiction hotline as a big factor in the drop. 

Since the hotline was created in Aug. 2016, there have been almost 4,500 calls to the number. 

Poloncarz noted that opioid deaths are still increasing in other parts of the state and country, so it’s important to stay focused. 

“We feel we are well on our way to overcoming the opioid epidemic in our community,” Poloncarz said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close, we’re getting there.”

According to a report from the CDC, overdose fatalities increased statewide from Oct. 2016 to Oct. 2017.