ITHACA, N.Y — The Tompkins County Health Department has confirmed that there have been 11 overdose drug deaths this year and four more are pending official cause of death.

This means the county is well on its way to seeing far more overdose deaths in 2016 than it has in the past two years. In 2015, the county saw 14 overdose deaths and in 2014, there were 15.

Brenda Grinnell Crosby, Public Health Administrator at the department, said in a statement, “Deaths include those where drugs were identified as the cause of death (including illicit and prescription) or may have contributed.”

The pending cases, she said, may be waiting for official toxicology or amendment of a death certificate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, about six out of 10 drug overdoes involve an opioid. Statistically, 78 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day.

The deaths happened within about six months of Ithaca formally announcing it’s new drug policy initiative called The Ithaca Plan. The plan resolves to accomplish many tasks, such as increasing treatment opportunities for addicts, implementing new prevention efforts and, most controversially, lobbying to legalize supervised drug injection sites.

If successful, Ithaca will be the first city in the country to try the harm reduction method, which is already being used in other countries.

Related: Read The Voice’s archive of The Ithaca Plan coverage

Featured photo by Ed Dittenhoefer for the Ithaca Voice.