By SARAH GRACE TAYLOR
President Donald Trump charged the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the nation’s opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday.
Following his press conference, Tennessee Congresswoman and senate-hopeful Marsha Blackburn released a statement endorsing Trump’s decision.
“Tennesseans are no stranger to the destruction this epidemic wreaks – we cannot afford to sit idly by as it continues. It is critical that we use every weapon available to us to fight this devastating epidemic,” Blackburn said. “The President’s decision to declare this a public health emergency gives states and communities more tools to address the crisis and unleashes government resources to better help those in need of help. There is more to do, but today’s announcement is an important step toward bringing this scourge to an end.”
Trump and Blackburn’s responses to the epidemic come just over a week after a joint investigation by the Washington Post and 60-Minutes highlighted questionable legislation action that contributes to the problem, targeting Blackburn by name for a law she cosponsored which loosened restrictions on pharmaceutical companies.
Opioid related deaths in Tennessee have been on the rise over the last five years. They have increased from 1,451 in 2015 to 1,631 in 2016 according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
Trump’s long-anticipated response to the booming and lethal plague of prescription drug abuse in the country did not include requesting any funding or resources to combat the problem.