President Declares National Public Health Emergency
WASHINGTON (AP) — In ringing and personal terms, President Donald Trump on Thursday pledged that “we will overcome addiction in America,” declaring opioid abuse a national public health emergency and announcing new steps to combat what he described as the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.
Trump’s declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources, including toward expanded access to medical services in rural areas. But it won’t bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 people a day.
“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” Trump said in a speech at the White House, where he bemoaned an epidemic he said had spared no segment of society, affecting rural areas and cities, rich and poor and both the elderly and newborns.
“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” he said. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”
Deaths have surged from opioids, which include some prescribed painkillers, heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, often sold on the nation’s streets.
Administration officials said they also would urge Congress, during end-of-the-year budget negotiations, to add new cash to a public health emergency fund that Congress hasn’t replenished for years and contains just $57,000.