Gov. Wolf Signs 8th Opioid Disaster Declaration Renewal, Vows Continued Concerted Efforts

Governor Tom Wolf signed the eighth renewal of Pennsylvania’s Opioid Disaster Declaration. In January 2018, he took the unprecedented step of signing the first disaster declaration so the state could focus resources and break down government siloes to address the burgeoning heroin and opioid epidemic.

“Renewing the disaster declaration and its provisions is a reminder that the collaborative efforts put forth by a large and diverse group of state agencies, third-party organizations and stakeholders is having a positive effect on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “We will continue to work tirelessly until we can claim victory over this crisis.”

Through continuous and expanding efforts, Pennsylvania’s response to the crisis has been heralded as a model for the nation by the Pennsylvania Medical Association. The commonwealth was awarded the second-highest amount of federal Department of Health and Human Services state opioid response funding to continue with programs already underway that focus on housing, education, and expanded medication-assisted treatment programs, among others. Since 2017, Pennsylvania has been allocated $141 million in federal funding.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Opioid Command Center and its partners, Pennsylvania has:

    • Distributed nearly 6,800 doses of naloxone free to members of the public through naloxone distribution days;
    • Assisted thousands of individuals affected by the closures of doctor’s offices through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program’s Patient Advocacy Program;
    • Continued conversations with numerous stakeholders and partners about the growing trend of stimulant use;
    • Added new data to the opioid data dashboard highlighting how the opioid crisis has increased the spread of infectious diseases and hospitalization for serious medical conditions, such as endocarditis, cellulitis and abscesses;
    • Awarded $3.4 million in federal grants to support services of pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder;
    • Hosted MAT summits across the state to encourage and provide support to those treating individuals with the disease of addiction;
    • Partnered with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation to bring the “Someone You Know” public health awareness campaign to Pennsylvania. The display shares the stories of the 20 campaign ambassadors who share their personal experiences with opioid use disorder;
    • Hosted the first Opioid Summit, bringing together professionals, community members, families and others impacted by the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania;
    • Answered nearly 30,000 calls to the Get Help Now hotline to help get someone into treatment or for general assistance; and
    • Awarded $2.1 million in general grants to assist community recovery projects for individuals with substance use disorder.

In addition, Pennsylvania’s rate of opioid prescriptions is now below the federal average and from 2017 to 2018 – the most recent data available – overdoses deaths declined by 18 percent.