It's an unusual move - one that is usually only applied to natural disasters.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's office put out a statement stressing efforts taken by Congress and the president to tackle the problem.
The proliferation of illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid designed for use in medical settings that can cause an overdose in minuscule amounts, has been a principal cause in large jumps in overdoses and deaths.
It was the biggest jump in any state except Florida, and leaves the commonwealth with the fourth-highest rate of overdose death in the country.
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Philadelphia is home to the highest overdose numbers in the state, which city officials say may have hit 1,200 deaths past year.
"The declaration enables us to waive requirements on a broad basis without the need for those providers to submit specific requests to us", she said.
"I don't take this action lightly", Wolf said.
"While we have made progress in combating the heroin and opioid abuse crisis and drastically expanded Pennsylvania's response", the governor at today's press conference, "we are still losing far too many Pennsylvanians".
Nine agencies in all, including Pennsylvania Emergency Management, The Department of Health, and drug and alcohol programs will be tasked with collecting information and identifying problems with treatment or prevention efforts over the next 90 days.
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Medics responding to overdose calls will be able to leave behind additional doses of naloxone, so drug users can prevent death if another overdose happens in the future.
Acting Drug and Alcohol Secretary Jennifer Smith says she'll consider making some of the changes permanent if they appear to be making a difference.
"Pennsylvania now becomes the eighth state to declare such a State of Emergency". Preliminary data shared by Wolf shows 5,260 people died from drug overdoses in 2017 - the highest tally ever recorded and a almost 15-percent jump over the previous year. Bob Casey (D) cited his $45 billion proposal for a federal response to the crisis, arguing "the federal government must do its part so that states don't have to deal with this alone".
"[Trump] didn't go as far as he should have. So when they say this, I'm a little hesitant in getting excited". "I think there's also the thing to try to catch this before the kids delve into this".
"Just as we are not going to simply arrest our way out of this problem - and absolutely need outreach, prevention, and enhanced treatment - we can not just simply treat our way out of it either", he said. This will allow more people to receive necessary treatments at the same location, increasing their access to care and chances for recovery.
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It's the first time a disaster emergency has been declared for a public health crisis in the commonwealth.