January 10, 2018 – State officials are dedicating additional resources to curb the drug crisis and address the disease of addiction in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf declared on Wednesday the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster declaration in a signing ceremony in Harrisburg. The measure establishes a command center to track progress, allows state departments to collaborate a strategy, and expands access to treatment.
“While we have made progress in combatting the heroin and opioid abuse crisis and drastically expanded Pennsylvania’s response, we are still losing far too many Pennsylvanians,” Governor Wolf said. “I am taking this step to protect Pennsylvanians from this looming public health crisis, and I am using every tool at my disposal to get those suffering from substance use disorders into treatment, save more lives, and improve response coordination.”
In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency reported 4,642 fatal drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, a 37% percent increase from the previous year.
“I routinely challenge all commonwealth agencies to think innovatively about how they continue to address the opioid epidemic and seek solutions that last long beyond our tenure in this building,” Governor Wolf said. “One such solution is to use the executive authority granted to me as the governor of this commonwealth to waive statutory regulations that create barriers to treatment and prevention, prevent first responders and others from saving lives, and reduce efficiency of our response.”