Gov. Tom Wolf is issuing a disaster declaration in Pennsylvania. But it won’t be a routine step before bad weather and relief efforts that follow. For the first time in state history, the announcement will be made for a public health crisis and the ongoing opioid epidemic killing thousands of Pennsylvania residents each year. The worsening crisis grew more than 30 percent in a year to 4,632 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. While some other states saw a decline in overdose deaths from May 2016 to May 2017, Pennsylvania recorded an 83 percent increase, according to a new analysis published Monday by Kaiser Health. The rise in Pennsylvania was largely attributed to fentanyl, which is in line with DEA statistics. Governor Wolf has been encouraged by steps the Legislature has taken, such as the creation of prescription monitoring systems, and steps his own administration has taken like increasing the availability of the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone to first responders.

Source: Local News