In a development that some addiction field advocates had sought for months, Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week declared a public health emergency in order to take executive action to combat the opioid crisis. As a result of the May 3 declaration, the administration will be able to initiate immediate spending action without going to state legislators.
The emergency declaration also will allow the state to execute an immediate drawdown of more than $27 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS's) Opioid State Targeted Response Grant initiative. That grant was awarded to Florida on April 21 for prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
Opioids were the direct cause of death for more than 2,500 Floridians in 2015, and some lawmakers and advocates have said the Scott administration has been slow to react to the gravity of the crisis. This has been highlighted in part because of the state's rapid response to a Zika virus threat that to this point has led to no deaths in the state.