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Oregon and Washington Leadership Take Steps to Tackle Spike in Overdose Deaths

A surge in fentanyl deaths in the Pacific Northwest, including among children, has prompted leaders in Oregon and Washington to name overdose deaths a top issue and take aggressive steps to confront the problem, Claire Rush and Hallie Golden report for the Associated Press. Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee plans to ask lawmakers for about $64 million more to treat and prevent opioid use. In Oregon, Governor Tina Kotek has proposed declaring a fentanyl emergency in Portland, and lawmakers have created a committee on addiction to get a jump on the issue before the Legislature reconvenes in February.

One way Oregon and Washington want to reduce fatalities is by more widely distributing opioid overdose reversal medications such as naloxone. Oregon’s state health department said it plans to offer free opioid overdose reversal kits to middle and high schools and a newly-filed bill would Oregon’s state health department said it plans to offer free opioid overdose reversal kits to middle and high schools. Another key goal is expanding access to treatment, including in jails. Oregon’s governor released a proposal this week that calls for the state, Multnomah County and the city of Portland each to declare a 90-day fentanyl emergency and establish a command center to improve coordination between law enforcement, outreach workers and service providers.

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