Erie County leaders hopeful Wolf's declaration will curb local crisis

Gov. Wolf to make announcement of new executive action in fight against heroin and opioid epidemic

This declaration will speed up and expand access to treatment, and improve tools for families, first responders and others in order to prevent the more than 3,500 deaths statewide from drug overdose each year.

"I don't take this action lightly".

Waiving requirements pertaining to hospitals and emergency rooms to enable them to more quickly begin medication assisted treatment for people who have overdosed.

The Pennsylvania physician general will reclassify fentanyl and similar drugs as Schedule 1 narcotics to limit access and open drug dealers to steep criminal penalties.

There are 13 initiatives set forth in the declaration, including the creation of an opioid command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Moreover, more recent analysis shows that Pennsylvania's rate of increase in overdose deaths is one of the very highest in the country, even as many other states are seeing drops or plateaus.

Dahlkemper said this is highly needed as the numbers of drug overdoses continue to rise.

Wolf acknowledged that the declaration is not a "silver bullet", but hoped it would streamline the state's attack.

Some of the provisions, such as making overdoses in which the victim survives a reportable condition, will give the state more information to use to understand and respond to the crisis, officials said.

The declaration signed to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives.

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The emergency proclamation covers 90 days because that's the maximum allowed by law.

"This declaration will bring additional resources to bear on this horrific public health emergency that has ripped apart far too many families", Casey said.

Besides coordinating the various state agencies, authorities were challenged to undo the stigma associated with opioid addiction - not just in the public, but among state and local governments, Stamp said. In Alaska, for example, when there was no money to buy deactivation pouches for people to dispose of unneeded painkillers, the state was able to persuade a supplier to provide 25,000 free pouches, said Andy Jones, deputy incident commander for Alaska's opioid response team.

Stedman says the problem must be tackled from many angles.

"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", the Democrat said in a statement.

The state's top prosecutor, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, called Wolf's action an important step.

Those law enforcement efforts alone won't solve the problem, he said. So far in 2018, he suspects eight fatal overdoses, but is awaiting toxicology results.

The House Republican chairs of the human services and health committee said Wolf's announcement spelled out "positive steps".

"We look forward to working with the governor and the Senate to help those in the Commonwealth struggling with addiction", they said.

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