The mayor of Huntington is "a bit perplexed" by President Donald Trump's decision to not declare a national emergency in the opioid crisis as his own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has recommended.
In a January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, a transcript of which was obtained by The Washington Post earlier this month, Trump bragged that he won New Hampshire because the state "is a drug-infested den", a problem that he blamed on "drug lords in Mexico". "When you have the capacity of Yankee stadium or Dodger stadium dying every single year in this nation, that's a crisis that has to be given incredible attention", he said.
The commission recommended that the treatment facilities should be expanded across the USA, doctors should be educated and equipped about the proper way to prescribe pain medication and police officers ought to be equipped with the anti-overdose remedy Naloxone.
"The lack of funding for essential treatment and recovery services is a persistent barrier to effectively addressing the opioid crisis", reads the letter, which was signed by nine other Democrats.
A series of studies, however, have found one of the key variables in opioid addiction is a doctor's prescription, with many overdose deaths stemming from prescription opioid medications.
Though concern over the addiction crisis resonates strongly with Trump's core supporters, it could be a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation, given its widespread impact. However, Trump was briefed by administration officials on the status of the opioid crisis.
While prescriptions have dropped in recent years since reaching a peak in 2010, as the New York Times has reported, "experts agree that the epidemic will not stop without halting the flow of prescription opioids that got people hooked in the first place".
A reporter asked about critics' charges that Trump-backed healthcare legislation would cut funding for Medicaid and drug treatment programs. He continued, "If they don't start, they wont have a problem". If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off. Declaring an emergency would "empower" the administration, the commission said.
"As president of the United States, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people and to ensure their safety", Trump said. "We don't need words at this point", said Scott Burris, a law professor at Temple University and the director of the school's Center for Public Health Law Research.
The task force largely encouraged a public health approach to the epidemic.
"First, it lets states and localities that are designated disaster zones to access money in the federal Disaster Relief Fund, just like they could if they had a tornado or hurricane", Humphreys said.
Emergency declaration or not, it appears that Trump continues weighing enforcement-focused initiatives, including those advocated by Sessions.
In 2015, West Virginia had the highest overdose death rate in the United States.