US lawmakers look to fight off the coronavirus pandemic’s negative effects on the opioid epidemic

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — U.S. Sens. Shelly Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, both of West Virginia, are worried about the effects of the coronavirus on the opioid epidemic.

“The numbers have gone up during COVID and we just haven’t focused on it because we’ve got the COVID phenomenon and pandemic that we’re trying to meet that challenge,” Capito said.

Capito says her home state was making progress fighting opioid addiction and overdoses, but as the pandemic continued, things got worse.

“These numbers are going up. We had them going down. We were doing a lot better job, but because of joblessness, probably isolation, and other reasons, that population has gotten worse,” Capito said.

The latest COVID-19 relief framework would secure $5 billion for opioid treatment.

“I think that will be a welcome relief,” Capito said.

Manchin says the opioid epidemic needs more attention now because it’s a problem that won’t go away with a coronavirus vaccine.

“We’ll be able to have a vaccine, it’ll protect us and it’ll go away eventually. The absolute opiate catastrophe that we’re going through, it continues to get worse,” Manchin said.

Capito says the funding is needed to provide in-person care because treatment options like telehealth aren’t as effective.

“It’s been tried and people were doing it but you’ve got to be pretty far down the road to recovery before that’s going to be able to be your best solution,” Capito said.

Congress is expected to vote on this COVID-19 relief framework later this week.

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