Governor Officially Declares State of Emergency in Pennsylvania Opioid Crisis
Governor Tom Wolf officially declared the opioid addiction crisis in Pennsylvania a “disaster emergency.” This declaration, typically reserved for natural disasters, allows the state to take some special measures to combat the crisis.
Between 2016 and 2017, opioid-related deaths in Pennsylvania rose by more than 44 percent, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This was the largest jump in any state aside from Florida. Pennsylvania now ranks fourth in the nation for the highest overdose death rates. More than 5,200 people died of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania last year.
Time for action
As part of the declaration, the state will establish a new Opioid Coordination Group in conjunction with the state’s Emergency Management Agency. It will also waive 12 regulations that can slow down some of the state’s responses to people who need immediate help.
Some examples of these changes include allowing high-performing drug treatment facilities to skip some licensing requirements and letting workers at emergency facilities leave extra naloxone with their overdose patients in case they need to be quickly be revived. If some of these changes start to make a clear difference, it’s possible they will become permanent.
Police officers also may now issue naloxone, a new measure that has already saved some lives, according to the governor’s office.
Pennsylvania is taking steps to prevent opioid overuse and addiction throughout the state, including greater penalties for drug convictions. To learn more about your options if you’re facing criminal charges, meet with skilled Reading drug crime defense attorney David R. Eshelman.