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Portland under 90-day state of emergency to tackle fentanyl crisis

The fentanyl crisis in Oregon has caused a sharp increase in deaths. Officials aim to address addiction through education and treatment.
Portland under 90-day state of emergency to tackle fentanyl crisis
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 31, 2024

Oregon officials have announced a 90-day state of emergency in Portland due to a serious public health and safety crisis linked to the widespread use of fentanyl.

“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” Gov. Tina Kotek said in a press release Tuesday. “The Chair, the Mayor, and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis. We are all in this together. The next 90 days will yield unprecedented collaboration and focused resources targeting fentanyl and provide a roadmap for next steps.”

The declaration will allow the city, state, and county to use available resources from human services, state police, health authorities, and emergency departments to set up a command center in Central City, which is composed of 10 districts, to serve as the focal point for daily communication, coordination, and efforts to address the fentanyl crisis.

“The Command Center will serve to refocus existing resources. It will also share and publicly report data on the impacts of fentanyl in downtown, use data to identify and respond to acute needs and gaps in service, identify any specific resources necessary to address gaps, and establish a system to coordinate that can be sustained beyond the 90-day startup period,” the press release notes.

While the state’s health department will launch educational campaigns across town to promote drug prevention and treatment, the county will “distribute and train partners on the use of Narcan and issue reports on overdose data.”

The fentanyl crisis has led to a staggering surge in fatalities in Oregon, as reported by health authorities. In 2022, the total number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths reached a grim milestone of 956. Although data for 2023 is still being compiled, by June, the toll from unintentional overdoses had already reached 628, and it is anticipated to surpass 1,250 once all the data is collected, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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