ShareThis Page
Pennsylvania

Wolf renews opioid disaster declaration, eyes legislation to declare public health emergency

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 3:18 p.m.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Citing the success of several initiatives in the first 90 days, Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday renewed his statewide opioid disaster declaration and announced that legislation is in progress that would allow the state Secretary of Health to declare the epidemic a public health emergency.

"We have made real progress during the disaster declaration to stem the tide of this epidemic and provide better resources and coordination for those on the front lines," Wolf said in a statement. "But it is critical that we keep building on our efforts at prevention, rescue and treatment."

The original 90-day declaration, signed Jan. 10, allowed the state to respond to the opioid epidemic as it would a natural disaster, cutting away some red tape to make way for 13 initiatives aimed at combating the epidemic.

Those initiatives included a standing order for a naloxone leave-behind program. Several areas, including Pittsburgh, have already begun the program in which paramedics responding to an overdose call can leave behind the overdose reversal drug.

The declaration also waived fees for birth certificates for those seeking addiction treatment, allowing them faster and easier access. Wolf said 80 birth certificates — nearly one a day — have been expedited since the declaration.

Part of Wednesday's announcement included the introduction of legislation that would allow Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine to declare opioid abuse a public health emergency.

Declaring opioid abuse a public health emergency would allow the Department of Health to waive or create new regulations and public notices for tracking and treating the epidemic.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me