US President Donald Trump has declared the country’s opioid abuse epidemic a national emergency.
The heightened status will give states and local areas access to federal funds reserved for emergencies, such as those used for responding to disease outbreaks or natural disasters. It should also provide the government with greater flexibility to waive rules and regulations to allow states to take action against the epidemic.
However, it is not yet clear on the specific nature of the emergency declaration and if the response will be short- or long-term.
President Trump’s statement follows an
interim report from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which concluded that the declaration of a national emergency is the most pressing response to the crisis.
It is estimated that there are 142 opioid-related deaths in the United States every day, which the Commission compared to the 9/11 death toll happening every three weeks. The number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled since 1999.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” President Trump said on Thursday. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”
The opioid crisis is the first national emergency to be declared during the Trump presidency and the 29th currently active in the United States, which include the oldest national emergency blocking Iranian government property, invoked by President Carter in 1979.