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Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

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On Thursday October 27, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency during a White House event, vowing to “use every appropriate emergency authority” to fight the epidemic.

The opioid crisis is one of the deadliest drug crises in American History, killing about 90 Americans a day.  The Trump administration declared a public health emergency, which has allowed the quick hiring of personnel to deal with the issue and a wider access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone, which has improved the monitoring of opioid prescriptions.

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. Never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” said Trump in his speech at the White House.

Despite his vow to end the epidemic, Trump fell short on his promise to declare the issue as a national emergency, which would have allowed federal authorities to use money from the federal Disaster Relief Fund.  Therefore, This has resulted in a decrease in federal funding for the crisis, but federal agencies will be directed to devote more grant money already in their budget to the problem and take “action to overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process,” according to a fact sheet on Trump’s order.

The president did not clearly indicate if he would request any additional funds, and he made little mention of the need for costly and rapid expansion of medical treatment, which public health specialists say is necessary to solve the issue.

“I think it’s good that Trump is addressing the issue and bringing awareness to it, even if there is no direct action being taken,” said Lizzie Dunsmore, Senior.

To tackle the problem, the president also said the government would create “really tough, really big, really great advertising” meant to  educate Americans about the negative health effect of opioids. Trump also shared the story of his brother, Fred, who struggled with alcoholism, ultimately convincing Trump to never take a drink.

Later in the speech, Trump linked his planned U.S.-Mexico border wall with efforts to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States.

“An astonishing 90% of the heroin in America comes from south of the border–where we will be building a wall–which will greatly help in this problem,” he said.

“Trump’s speech was pointless,” said Lily Zhu, Senior. “Everyone already knew that the opioid crisis was a problem. He didn’t say anything that would actually help the problem.”

Most people seem to agree that Trump’s plan cannot be implemented effectively.

“What we need is for the president to ask for enough funding from Congress that could quickly increase access to treatment for opioid addiction, not some speech about the increasing advertising and building the wall,” said Shay Ladd, Senior.

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Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency