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December 04, 2020

Opioid crisis has worsened during the pandemic, lawmakers fear

Credit: Wreg Memphis, Morgan Wright

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Members of Congress are expressing concern that the opioid crisis is intensifying as people are home, isolated, and dealing with the stressors of the pandemic.

Congressman John Katko, R-New York, and Congressman David Trone, D-Maryland, are suggesting that a new COVID-19 relief bill is needed to help ease the burden on Americans faced with uncertainty.

“What I’m seeing is completely alarming,” Katko said.

“The current situation is dire,” Trone added.

The two lawmakers say while the pandemic rages on, so too does the opioid epidemic.

“There’s no doubt that we were starting to get the opioid crisis somewhat under control and now, it’s just mushroomed again across this great country,” Katko said.

Trone says opioids are ravaging parts of his congressional district.

“All across Western Maryland, in Washington County, we’re up like 46% overdose deaths year-to-date and remember, that’s on top of 2019 — a record year of deaths, 71,000 deaths,” he said.

According to the American Medical Association, more than 40 states are reporting increases in opioid-related deaths.

“Opioid abuse is on the rise. I think it goes hand in glove with the pandemic,” Katko said.

Katko believes Congress must act. He’s urging negotiators to reach a deal on more financial relief to help.

“I was supportive of the $38 billion in the COVID relief package that went to the opioid treatment crisis and prevention,” he said. “We need another round of it, there’s just no doubt about it.”

Trone agreed, saying more relief for fighting back the pandemic can help Americans struggling with opioid addiction.

“We’ve got to spend more money to save lives,” Trone said.

“It’s just an absolute disaster, so it’s crucial that we get this next set of COVID legislation through,” he continued.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have yet to agree on another relief package, and the clock is ticking since the two chambers will recess for the Christmas break in the coming weeks.