Oregon Officials Scramble to Find a Fix for Fentanyl Death Rate – State of Emergency Declared

Oregon officials are scrambling to find a fix for the alarming increase in the fentanyl death rate by declaring a 90-day state of emergency. In a desperate attempt to stop the frightening 533% increase in drug fatalities related to the highly potent synthetic opioid, the Governor’s office revealed details of a damage control plan at a press conference on Tuesday.


Soft Approach to Potent Drugs Has Alarming Backlash

The state’s decision in 2021 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of highly potent opioids like fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine, has created an alarming backlash of increased deaths by overdose and blatant public displays of drug use and abuse.

City officials can no longer ignore the statistics or the growing voices of discontent and have established a command center in Portland in a tri-government effort to negate the effects of fentanyl’s intrusion into the lives of its residents.

The state of emergency was announced by Governor Tina Kotek, supported by Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, bringing together the state, Multnomah County, and the city of Portland.

Governor Kotek says the country has never experienced a drug as addictive as fentanyl and…..”we are grappling with how to respond.” She said the command center is an effort to act with unity and urgency in a sustained effort to control damage.

The number of fentanyl-related overdose fatalities has increased by a staggering 533% between 2018 and 2022, according to Multnomah County whose agencies will work to halt the damage caused by fentanyl by increasing access to outreach, recovery, treatment, and housing services.

Multnomah Country Chair Pederson says the 90-day action plan is a response to “the very human toll” fentanyl is having on the community. She says the emergency response will benefit the entire region, the state and tribal lands. Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler, describes the decision as a coordinated action to make an impact and lasting difference.

Pederson says it is common knowledge that a large share of fentanyl that finds its way into Oregon is trafficked through Portland. Therefore, the focus of attention of the task force manning the emergency center will be on Portland’s city center, an area stretching from Goose Hollow to the Lloyd District. Goose Hollow is one of the best places to live in the state, while Lloyd District is the city’s commercial area. Drugs like fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana are openly available at open-air city-center markets.


Lawmakers Seek Reversal of Drug Possession Penalties

In another turnaround of sentiment, Oregon’s 2021 soft approach to drug usage is likely to be vetoed next week when state lawmakers meet to renegotiate that decision in a legislative session. Former state lawmaker and head of the Oregon Corrections Department, Max Williams, says Portland’s 2021 decision to decriminalize possession of small quantities of opioids, known as Measure 110, must be reversed to a Class A misdemeanor if the state is to rescue communities and save lives.

The tri-government’s emergency response units will each have their own incident commander to lead the command teams.

  • Jennifer Vines, remembered for her leading role as Multnomah’s Health Officer for the county during the pandemic, has been appointed as the county’s incident commander.
  • Portland Community Safety Division director, Mike Meyers, heads the city’s team.
  • The state’s incident commander is Nathan Reynolds, the deputy policy chief of Oregon’s Office of Resilience and Emergency Management.




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