For nine days, the nation’s opioid crisis was no longer considered a “public health emergency” after the Trump administration failed to renew a two-year-old declaration that expired last week, Politico reports. A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said, “This was a clerical error. The public health emergency for opioids has been renewed.” President Donald Trump in October 2017 directed the department to declare that the opioid epidemic was an emergency, a status that the administration touted as necessary to direct more resources toward the drug overdose crisis that was claiming the lives of more than 50,000 Americans per year. The emergency status must be renewed every 90 days.
The emergency has been renewed seven times, but the administration missed a deadline of nine days ago. Trump, who has promised to end the opioid epidemic, has repeatedly touted his decision to declare an emergency. He also has made the opioid fight a central part of his administration’s agenda. “The opioid crisis” is one of five key priorities listed on the White House homepage — along with “economy,” “national security,” “budget” and “immigration.” Officials and public health experts say that the emergency declaration’s effect on the opioid crisis has been minimal. Many of Trump’s significant steps to fight the epidemic — including guidance for states to expand addiction treatment and a Centers for Disease Control awareness campaign — were accomplished outside of the emergency status.
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