PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania will be the first state to receive a big donation to help fight the opioid epidemic. Calling it a national crisis, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a huge investment in fighting the drug crisis, and Pennsylvania is getting the biggest chunk of the money.
Bloomberg is donating $50 million to 10 states to fight the drug epidemic, with Pennsylvania getting $10 million.
After the announcement, Bloomberg came to Philadelphia for a couple of visits with Gov. Tom Wolf as they went to the Bridge Way School for students who are in recovery.
“Pennsylvania has double the national average in drug deaths,” said Bloomberg. “It’s a place where there’s a big problem.”
Drug overdose deaths killed 5,400 people in the state last year. There were 70,000 deaths nationwide.
The declining life expectancy in the United States is blamed on skyrocketing drug deaths.
“We can do something about it. That’s the real tragedy, none of these people should die,” said Wolf. “The goal is to take this death rate to zero.”
Wolf, who also visited Jefferson’s maternal addiction clinic, has implemented a disaster declaration to get more resources to fight the drug epidemic. He says the extra $10 million from Bloomberg will be spread to a variety of programs.
“I think it’s incredible,” said Reenie Dugan.
Dugan is part of the Pink Elephant Movement, which is a grassroots organization in Kensington that’s helping support families torn apart by drugs.
“A whole generation is being wiped away,” said Dugan.
Their annual 5k happens in Kensington — an epicenter of the drug crisis. Dugan was thinking about her 7-year-old son when she started the charity.
“I don’t want him to have to witness this kind of epidemic,” said Dugan.
The Pink Elephant Movement will be having a Christmas breakfast with Santa for children who’ve lost parents to drugs.
The $10 million donation will be coming over the next three years.