Gov. Wolf issues disaster declaration against heroin and opioid

Gov. Wolf issues disaster declaration against heroin and opioid

Gov. Wolf issues disaster declaration against heroin and opioid

Pennsylvania reported 4,642 deaths from drug overdoses in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I don't take this action lightly".

The drug monitoring program helps identify doctors who are over-prescribing and patients who are doctor-shopping to get drugs they may not need, he said.

Pennsylvania's governor is hoping a declaration of disaster emergency will provide additional tools to help the state respond to its opioid addiction crisis. Over the last three years, first responders and emergency room personnel have used naloxone to revive more than 5,700 people experiencing overdoses.

Establishing an opioid command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency that will meet weekly to monitor the progress of the declaration initiatives.

Yoder said Wolf's announcement "many opportunities for improvement" in the methods for dealing with drug-use and overdose issues.

"In our first year, we were just trying to save lives", he said, saying he anticipates the declaration will be extended for another year. Law enforcement officials and Butler County Coroner William Young III have said that most of the deaths can be attributed fentanyl, a potent cousin of morphine. It seeks to bolster the fight against heroin and opioid addiction by enhancing the state's response, increasing access to treatment and saving lives.

The declaration is valid for 90 days because that is the maximum allowed under the state Constitution.

"It is automatic when a governor issues a proclamation of emergency, this section of the Law 6107 applies, where it prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm on any public streets or any public property during that emergency", he said.

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"Now, the federal government must do its part so that states don't have to deal with this alone".

Stedman says the problem must be tackled from many angles.

The state's top prosecutor, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, called Wolf's action an important step.

However, Wolf said this declaration is a continuation of efforts made by his team to address the crisis, such as providing first responders across the commonwealth with Naloxone.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said law enforcement was largely absent from the governor's speech.

Moving fentanyl derivatives into a category of drugs which has no medical objective, giving law enforcement better tools to prosecute illegal sale of fentanyl, which is much stronger than heroin and is considered a major factor in the ongoing surge of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania.

CCAP Human Services Committee Chair and Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick explained, "This downward spiraling trend in substance abuse has become a major cost driver across state and county budgets".

Lawmakers intend to chime in with their own ideas about how to continue fighting the crisis, said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County, and state Rep. Matt Baker, R-Bradford County, in a joint statement. For as little as $3, you can help us.

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