Gov. Tom Wolf declares 'state of emergency'

Gov. Tom Wolf declares 'state of emergency'

In Lancaster County, 165 people died from drug overdoses previous year - a lot of them using prescription painkillers, heroin or fentanyl, according to county coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni.

An extraordinary step taken for the first time in Pennsylvania's history.

The declaration will allow officials to bypass some laws and regulations if they believe them to hinder the effort to fight the crisis.

The declaration includes 13 key initiatives involving the Departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the State Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the PA State Police.

"One of the main things is if we can get people into treatment, hopefully we can help them, and obviously get them onto the path of living a more healthy life", said Dahlkemper.

"While the scope of this declaration is broad, and while it affects programs and entities across the Commonwealth, it is imperative that we use every tool to try and contain and eradicate this public health crisis", said Gov. Wolf.

Yoder said Wolf's announcement "many opportunities for improvement" in the methods for dealing with drug-use and overdose issues.

"Pennsylvania has a big problem, and we need to confront it", Wolf said.

But even so, it will take years for the state to recover from the crisis that has claimed so many lives and left so many people addicted to drugs, she said.

Last year, Philadelphia began implementing recommendations from Mayor Jim Kenney's Heroin Task Force, including increasing access to medicine-assisted treatment and court diversion programs.

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.

"It is automatic when a governor issues a proclamation of emergency, this section of the Law 6107 applies, where it prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm on any public streets or any public property during that emergency", he said.

"I have introduced legislation that would invest $45 billion in programs that combat opioid addiction and provide treatment for those who need it".

State Rep. Mark M. Gillen, a Robeson Township Republican, said, "In terms of reducing regulations, I have always been all in".

We know that this crisis has taken far too many lives. Our national investigation with 41 Attorneys General of the pharmaceutical industry and the opioid painkillers fueling this epidemic is ongoing and active.

Those law enforcement efforts alone won't solve the problem, he said. Overdoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome are now reportable conditions to the health department, giving them better data on where non-fatal overdoses are taking place to send resources.

CCAP Human Services Committee Chair and Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick explained, "This downward spiraling trend in substance abuse has become a major cost driver across state and county budgets".

The crisis hit Butler County particularly hard in 2017.