San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, joined by 35 other U.S. mayors, have written to congressional leaders, pressing them to back President Joe Biden's additional funding request. This measure is designed to battle the fentanyl and synthetic opioid crisis, per the SF Gov News. The funding will help increase public health resources and strengthen public safety to mitigate this epidemic that has taken many lives and wrecked communities nationwide.
In the letter, they allude to alarming figures published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2022, the number of deaths from drug overdoses surpassed 100,000 in America, marking a new high. About 70% of these fatalities included fentanyl or other synthetic opioids, according to SF Gov News. The mayors stress the need for immediate action to address this fentanyl crisis.
Roughly $1.5 billion of the President's additional funding request is allocated to local areas through the Department of Health and Human Services’ State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant Program. This program supports treatment for opioid use disorder, evidence-based harm reduction measures, overdose prevention, and recovery assistance services. Since its inception in 2018, the SOR grant has made treatment available to over 1.2 million people, and states have acquired nearly 9 million overdose reversal medication kits using SOR grant funds, subsequently preventing roughly 500,000 overdoses.
Moreover, there is a request for $1.2 billion to fight illegal fentanyl trafficking and end its passage through U.S. borders. With these resources, more enforcement and investigative staff can be hired, and advanced detection technology can be purchased. In the 2023 fiscal year, Homeland Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out over 5,000 arrests related to fentanyl, which attests to increasing efforts in disrupting the fentanyl trade.
The mayors’ letter brings to light the effects of the fentanyl crisis, which has radiated to every part of the country, causing destruction in urban and rural areas, as noted in Mayor Breed and Seattle Mayor Harrell's Letter. The mayors maintain that the President's additional request acknowledges the multi-faceted strategy necessary to mitigate the devastating impact of fentanyl. The strategy includes joint public safety and health measures.