HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Wolf wrote a letter to the General Assembly asking Pa. legislators to come back to the Harrisburg Capitol to extend the opioid disaster declaration by August 26.
In the letter, Wolf says he intends to renew the declaration this Thursday, citing the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the second-largest amount of opioid deaths since the crisis began in 2017. He writes 2020 brought in a 16% increase in deaths, according to data from the Pa. Dept. of Health.
Wolf wrote: “The experts tell us that there is massive lingering trauma from this pandemic that will continue to manifest itself in mental health needs, physical health needs, and substance use challenges.”
The Wolf Administration first took action on the opioid crisis by declaring a statewide disaster emergency in early 2018, including starting an Opioid Command Center. The disaster declaration has been renewed 14 times since its inception.
The Opioid Command Center has continued to increase prevention and recovery efforts to break the stigma and barriers regarding substance abuse and treatment. They’ve worked to equip over 1,200 first responders with the skills necessary to help give over 50,000 doses of naloxone and provide support for those struggling.
They’ve also worked to help over 400 veterans, with great success, saying 98% of participants report reduction in substance use and 88% having an overall improvement in quality of life. They also helped over 500 pregnant and postpartum women.
The declaration also helped form the 24/7 Get Help Now Hotline.