HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has declared Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency and ordered a command center set up to treat the crisis like it would a natural disaster.
Wolf signed the order Wednesday. His office says seven other states have taken similar actions to address the problem.
A command center is to be set up at the state’s emergency management headquarters in Harrisburg. Wolf’s office says the move provides wider access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and makes it easier for medical professionals to get people into treatment more quickly.
It also will let emergency responders to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone when responding to a call for help.
Pennsylvania suffered more than 4,600 fatal drug overdoses in 2016, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The state’s rate of drug overdoses is more than twice the national average.