Trump declares public health emergency on opioid epidemic - WNEM TV 5

Trump declares public health emergency on opioid epidemic

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

President Donald Trump is declaring a public health emergency in response to the nation's opioid epidemic.

The declaration made on Thursday won't necessarily throw any new federal money at the crisis, but instead give states permission to shift funds away from other health crises - like HIV - and put it toward the opioid epidemic.

The money will also provide labor grants to people displaced by the opioid epidemic.

"What he said that made it a step forward is that we need to engage more federal agencies," said Dr. William Morrone, nationally recognized medical officer and director of Recovery Pathways.

Recovery Pathways is a rehabilitation program licensed throughout Michigan.

Morrone has been working to inform local officials and residents on the opioid epidemic for years. He believes after Thursday's announcement, it will be taken more seriously.

"Today he affirmed that, which really should let people know, this is big. It's been big and local groups may not have really understood how big this is," Morrone said.

The opioid crisis in America has reached a pivotal point with deaths nearly doubling since 2009. The number of admissions to intensive care units increased by 34 percent.

Morrone said most patients and lawmakers fail to realize prescription drugs aren't the main method of overdosing anymore.

"Prescription drug overdose is 20 to 25 percent of overdose deaths, 75 to 80 percent are all overdose deaths from fentanyl and from heroin," Morrone said.

Morrone hopes the public health emergency won't just be another political announcement, but an act that provides real change to local neighborhoods and areas dealing with the opioid addiction.

"They need to spread things out because we all need to work together in a larger neighborhood," Morrone said.

A public health emergency can only last for 90 days, but it can be renewed any number of times.

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