Trump Told to Declare National Emergency on Opioid Epidemic
In order to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic, the White House opioid commission, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has requested that President Trump declare a national public health emergency. “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” said the commission, referencing the fact that 142 Americans die from drug overdoses every day.
The number of American overdose deaths involving the use of opioids has quadrupled since 1999—from 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 drug overdose deaths occurred. The majority of those deaths were due to opioids.
In his 2016 campaign, Trump had made fighting opioid abuse—classified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an epidemic—a key platform.
“Our citizens are dying,” said the commission in an interim report on Monday. “We must act boldly to stop it. The first and most urgent recommendation of this commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency.”
It is rare for a non-natural disaster public health emergency to be declared. The two most recent incidents include last year’s Zika cases in Puerto Rico, and the 2009-10 flu season.
“Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life,” said the commission. “It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: if the scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”
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