In a letter to the Trump administration sent May 8, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) urged the president to continue fighting the opioid epidemic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joyce asked the administration to continue to make resources available to health care centers and communities to continue to address the growing crisis. According to Joyce, counties across Ohio are reporting increases in overdoses and overdose-related deaths during the pandemic.
Joyce noted in a press release that from January to April 15 of this year, Franklin County saw a 50 percent increase in fatal overdoses. Sixty-two people in Franklin County died from overdoses in April alone. In Montgomery County, officials said 37 people overdosed in March, the highest monthly total in three years.
“As our nation grapples with the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, another public health emergency continues to devastate communities across our country: the opioid crisis,” said Joyce in his letter. “While significant progress has been made in our battle against this crisis, like drug overdose deaths dropping last year for the first time since 1990, we are now at risk of seeing that progress become undone. As we continue the urgent work of slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must commit ourselves to mitigating the detrimental impact this deadly virus has had on our ability to combat the opioid crisis. I stand ready to work with the President, my colleagues in Congress, and officials at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse so we can keep our communities safe from the opioid crisis’ tragic path of addiction.”
Joyce said social distancing was necessary but was also a factor in continuing the fight against opioid addiction. Recovery, he said, is especially trying during social isolation and heightened anxiety. Additionally, resources for recovering individuals are harder to access as efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 have put face-to-face meeting and peer support groups on hold. Additionally, community health centers have seen revenues decline, making it more difficult for them to provide services to addicted individuals.