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President Donald Trump attended a briefing on the state of the nation’s opioid epidemic. He called on law enforcement and educational solutions to the problem. (August 8)
AP

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday stressed the importance of prevention and law enforcement in a briefing on the opioid crisis at his New Jersey golf course, but stopped short of declaring the state of national emergency that his own opioid commission has recommended.

Health Secretary Tom Price told said the administration has the resources it needs to combat the epidemic without invoking the emergency powers. 

“The president certainly believes we should treat is as an emergency, and it is an emergency,” Price told reporters after meeting with Trump. “Look, when you have the capacity of Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium dying every single year in this nation, that’s a crisis that had to be given incredible attention, and the president is giving it that attention.”

A formal declaration of a public health emergency — or a presidential emergency declaration — would give the administration additional powers to waive health regulations, pay for treatment programs, and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available.

But Price said those powers are intended more for shorter-term, more localized public health crises. 

Speaking at a meeting with health and drug policy officials, Trump gave his most extensive remarks on the opioid crisis since his commission delivered an urgent preliminary report eight days ago. 

Reading a statement to reporters from a working vacation at his Bedminster National Golf Club, Trump called overdose deaths “a tremendous problem in our country.”

“Nobody is safe from this epidemic that threatens all — young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural communities. Everybody is threatened,” Trump said. 

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem,” he said. “If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: ‘No good, really bad for you in every way.’ But if…