WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the United States’ addiction fight with opioids.
Capito noted the struggle to adapt to the COVID-19 world with strict social distancing guidelines in place, solutions from the Trump administration, cracking down on the southern border, and legislative fixes.
She noted that a White House Office of Drug Control Policy analysis showed an 11.4% increase in overdose fatalities for the first four months of 2020. Capito added that West Virginia had 923 overdose-related EMS calls in May, a 50% jump from May 2019.
Capito also noted increases in neighboring Kentucky and Ohio.
“The need for social distancing does make in-person recovery programs that are a lifeline for some, almost impossible,” Capito said. “Social distancing may also lead to more individuals using drugs alone, raising the risk of overdose death because there is no one there to help or intervene.”
On Friday, Capito met with Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Jim Carroll in Huntington to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the drug epidemic. Later that day, Capito held a phone meeting with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
She noted on Tuesday in a release that her and colleagues is working on creative ways to address these issues including a NO PAIN Act which would ensure that doctors can offer non-opioid choices as they resume elective surgeries.
Capito is also working on the Prescription Digital Therapeutics to Support Recovery Act which ensures those in treatment and recovery can use the proper technologies to connect virtually to peers and counselors.
“Challenges of a nation and individuals fill out our reality today. I wish the drug addiction epidemic did not have to continue to be one of them,” Capito said. “Sadly, as many of our families across this nation know oh too well, it continues to ruin many lives.”