Wolf Signs Disaster Emergency Over Opioid Crisis


An Opioid Operation Command Center will launch within the state's emergency management agency and be staffed by employees of nine state departments including health, state police, and others.

"Those who we have lost are not just numbers", Wolf said, adding that both urban and rural communities in Pennsylvania have been decimated by the crisis.

"I think the pieces are in place" for the state to begin better-managing the crisis, with these new moves on top of earlier efforts to address the crisis, Beck said.

Waiving the requirement that someone meet face-to-face with a doctor before entering treatment for a narcotic drug; they will see the doctor later.

Today, Governor Wolf will make a major announcement of new executive action that will bolster Pennsylvania's effort in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic.

Pennsylvania saw a 43 percent increase in drug overdose deaths between 2015-2016, including more than 4,600 deaths attributed to heroin or opioid abuse in 2016.

"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", said Governor Wolf.

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.

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In a press conference Wednesday, Wolf noted that Pennsylvania now has the fourth highest overdose rate in the country, an untenable situation that will require more aggressive policy measures. Governor Wolf's disaster declaration will enable state agencies to waive regulations, lowering barriers to treatment. Hospitals won't be required to get a separate license to offer treatment, either. He has been surprised by the amount of people calling his office who are frustrated and concerned about this issue.

Fees to have a duplicate birth certificate produced will be waived.

Mango has focused on addressing the Pennsylvania opioid crisis since the very beginning of his campaign.

The governor's order will also allow wider use of the state's prescription drug monitoring program - which lets state officials know when doctors prescribe opioids and which patients are getting the drugs.

It also will let emergency responders to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone when responding to a call for help.

The step makes Pennsylvania the eighth such state to do so. Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia have previously made similar declarations.

Wolf's declaration is created to increase access to treatment and save lives. Steps he announced in conjunction with the declaration ideally will help to at least mitigate the crisis in coming months.