6 states fighting the opioid epidemic with emergency or disaster declarations

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency, an action several states have already taken in response to the rising overdose death rates.

The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established by the president via executive order in March, issued its interim report July 31, recommending President Trump declare the crisis a national emergency. While President Trump showed no intention to make such a declaration during a Tuesday press briefing on the opioid epidemic, he announced the national emergency two days later.

Here are six states that have previously made emergency or disaster declarations to address the crisis.

1. Alaska: Governor Bill Walker, I-Alaska, issued a disaster declaration regarding the state's opioid epidemic Feb. 14. The declaration diverted an estimated $4,058,316 from the state health department and federal grants to support the dissemination of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone across the state.

2. Arizona: Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on June 5 declared a statewide health emergency in Arizona due to surging rates of opioid overdose deaths. The declaration allows Arizona Department of Health Services to more rapidly respond to the crisis via the distribution of the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone and increased coordination for public health efforts between state, local and private-sector partners.

3. Florida: Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order May 3 declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in Florida. The emergency order permitted the state to expedite the use of $27 million in federal funds for opioid addiction treatment and prevention, which was awarded to the state via HHS' Opioid State Targeted Response Grant April 21.

4. Maryland: On March 1, Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency to address the heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis affecting Marylanders. The decision activated the governor's emergency management authority, enabling increased and more rapid coordination between the state and local jurisdictions to address the crisis.

5. Massachusetts: In March 2014, former Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared the state's opioid crisis a public health emergency, making him the first governor in the nation to issue such a declaration, according to STAT. The former governor used the emergency powers more broadly than his counterparts by banning physicians from prescribing Zohydro ER, a pure hydrocodone product. The move was ultimately overturned in court.

6. Virginia: On Nov. 21, 2016, Democractic Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared opioid addiction to be a statewide public health emergency and issued a standing prescription for residents to get the anti-overdose drug Naloxone, according to The Washington Post.

More articles on opioids: 
New Hampshire sues OxyContin manufacturer over marketing tactics  
Opioid overdose deaths could be higher than CDC numbers indicate, study finds 
DEA proposes 20% cut in opioid manufacturing

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