SOMERSET, Pa. (WTAJ) — Doctors, police and addiction counselors sat down with local politicians today to explain the substantial increase they have seen in relapses and overdoses in Somerset County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high drug trafficking and addiction rate has been such a cause for concern that it gained an ear from the top.
Known as President Trump’s personal “Drug Tzar,” Jim Carroll, the Director of National Drug Control Policy, praised the actions taken by local leaders to stop addiction in the community.
“What I saw by coming here is people from different walks of life, different jobs, coming together to work on this issue,” said Carroll.
He spoke about the trafficking problem that Somerset deals with, calling it and every town in America a “border town,” as almost all drugs come from outside of the U.S.
Carroll announced that Westmoreland, the neighboring county, has been added to the federal high-intensity drug trafficking areas program.
It is a grant program that works to reduce drug trafficking and production in the U.S> with the help of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Congressman John Joyce says that getting grants to offset addiction programs’ loss in revenue during the pandemic is a step in the right direction, stating, “we have to recognize that the matching fund grants that are available. That helps so many in the community addressing the drug crisis.”
The meeting ended with promise that the White House will have its eye on Somerset and become more directly involved with the local addiction crisis.