Governor McMaster Declares Statewide Public Health Emergency in Response to Opioid Deaths

Looks to Agency Leaders for Answers

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)- Governor Henry McMaster made a call to action Monday, urging state leaders and citizens to to put an end to our state’s opioid epidemic.

“I have today declared a statewide, public health emergency for the state of South Carolina, effective immediately and remaining in effect until the revocation by a subsequent executive order. A collaborative approach is the only thing that will work for something this big, something this pernicious, something this insidious,” said Governor McMaster.

Agencies like SLED, DHEC And the state National Guard will all take part in the collaboration. In addition to the emergency declaration, the governor also issued an executive order calling on lawmakers to implement a five day maximum opioid prescription for minor post-operative pain.

“I don’t view this personally as a big problem in saying, ‘We only want you to be able to prescribe five days in these acute scenarios. That should have already been the case,” said Greenville Representative Eric Bedingfield. Bedingfield’s lost his son to a battle with opioids back in 2015.

The initiative comes after officials said more than 600 lives were lost to opioid related deaths in 2016 compared to 366 murders in the same year. Team members hope the effort not only saves lives but also reduces drug trafficking.

The team meetings will be held every month at the state Emergency Management Division beginning Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to lawmakers and agency leaders working on solutions, Governor McMaster also encouraged the public to speak up if they are aware of opioid abuse.

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