Trump to hold 'major briefing' on opioid crisis Tuesday

Trump to hold 'major briefing' on opioid crisis Tuesday

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - UPDATE: President Donald Trump said on Twitter he plans to hold a briefing on the opioid crisis Tuesday at his New Jersey golf club.

He also shared a Fox News report on a new study that found overdose deaths have been severely under reported.


Ohio is ground-zero for the heroin crisis sweeping through the nation, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Hamilton County health officials issued an alert over the weekend after 22 people were admitted to local hospitals on Saturday for overdosing, said Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan.

That many overdoses in a day are nearly unheard of in the county, but it is not the highest, said Synan, a member of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition.Typically, the county sees 50-70 overdoses a week.

It's unclear what is behind the dramatic increase, Synan said, but they are usually related to a certain batch circulating in an area.

"Cincinnati, Hamilton County and all our partners are working together constantly to gather data and to determine what this means and continue to watch trends and issue alerts when appropriate and see what the data tells us we need to do," he said.

While Narcan undoubtedly saves lives, opioid abuse remains the leading cause of death in many parts of the country including Butler County, rapidly outpacing heart disease, gun deaths and car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The overdoes count is the latest consequence of an elevating public health epidemic: Opioid addiction made even deadlier by being laced with fentanyl and other powerful synthetics.

Last week, the Tri-State area saw a string of high-profile heroin incidents:

Synan says the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is considering recommending a state law change that would give first responders the power to force addicts into treatment, one of its members. However, there are problems with funding treatment and space for patients.

The coalition is beginning to gather data as they consider revamping Casey's Law, which allows parents and other loved ones of drug addicts and alcoholics to request a judge to order addiction treatment.

Synan also notes that all the recommendations made last week from President Donald Trump's panel examining the country's opioid crisis are the exact same ones the heroin coalition has been asking for "Since Day 1."

The panel  — led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and charged with studying ways to combat and treat the opioid epidemic — filed a report on the crisis last month advising the president to declare a public emergency.

"The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act," the commission wrote in its interim report.

"Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life."

Opioid deaths have risen for years, the panel reports 142 Americans die from from heroin abuse — ensuring a death total equal to the 9/11 attacks every three weeks.

The final report is expected to be submitted to the Oval Office by October.

Trump promised as he campaigned last year to tackle the nation's opioid crisis, but has been relatively quite on the issue. Health care initiatives from the president and Republican lawmakers would have stripped billions of dollars from combating drug abuse. The failed measured sparked staunch resistance from Republicans from states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.

The president put son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of solving it, in addition to other massive political challenges such as streamlining Veterans Affairs and achieving Middle East peace, despite having no previous policy experience.

Up until Trump's announced briefing, there has been little mention of the heroin crisis from the White House despite pleas for more assistance from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranely, Gov. John Kasich and Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

The president's only legislative solution so far is his proposed southern border wall, which faces significant budget hurdles and little support from Senate Republicans. Trump says would stall the flow of drugs from Mexico. However, most fentanyl comes from China by mail, according to a recent report by The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Some Chinese fentanyl is sent to Mexico and trafficked across the southern border, but officials say it is difficult to say how much is smuggled into the U.S. on land.

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