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Pennsylvania heroin and opioid epidemic a disaster, governor says

11 January 2018

There are 13 initiatives set forth in the declaration, including the creation of an opioid command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Wolf says it's time for more extreme action.

Preliminary figures show 5,260 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2017. It seeks to bolster the fight against heroin and opioid addiction by enhancing the state's response, increasing access to treatment and saving lives.

It was the biggest jump in any state except Florida, and leaves the commonwealth with the fourth-highest rate of overdose death in the country.

"It's imperative that we use every tool to contain and eradicate this public health crisis", Wolf said.

Wolf deserves credit for the emergency declaration and a series of other steps that the government previously had launched.

The move is appropriate though, considering the seriousness of the problem, "the worst public health crisis we've faced" in a generation, she said. It will expire in 90 days as required by the state Constitution. It will create a coordinated response within PEMA to allow agencies to take a more unified approach to the epidemic.

"The declaration enables us to waive requirements on a broad basis without the need for those providers to submit specific requests to us", she said.

"Pennsylvania now becomes the eighth state to declare such a State of Emergency".

"This crisis has been my top priority since I took office last January". Preliminary data shared by Wolf shows 5,260 people died from drug overdoses in 2017 - the highest tally ever recorded and a almost 15-percent jump over the previous year.

"This declaration while it's not a silver bullet".

With the new declaration, any current regulation would be suspended or overridden and a new group made up of emergency and law enforcement professionals would be established, tasked with improving conditions for patients and addicts, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His office says seven other states have taken similar actions to address the problem. "But as we do, we understand we also have to act, quickly and decisively to make sure those numbers don't continue to grow", said Governor Tom Wolf.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, in a statement, commended Wolf's move.

Drug treatment facilities are on the front line of the opioid epidemic.

He added that the federal government could do more to help.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro called Wolf's announcement "an important step". Our arrests of medical personnel and others for illegally diverting prescription drugs are up 72 percent. "As the devastating effects of this epidemic continue to ravage communities in Pennsylvania, today's declaration sends a clear message that more work remains to be done". For as little as $3, you can help us.

Pennsylvania heroin and opioid epidemic a disaster, governor says