Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a statewide public health emergency to address South Carolina’s growing opioid addiction and overdose crisis.
“According to the statistics, there’s a silent hurricane going on in our state that hits us, and it’s getting worse,” McMaster said during a recent press conference. “It hits us every year, and it’s called the opioid crisis.”
As part of the declaration, McMaster has ordered the establishment of an Opioid Emergency Response Team, which consists of federal and state law enforcement agencies, state health regulatory agencies, and health care treatment providers.
The team will be led by State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and Sara Golsby, director of the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. It will meet monthly “to assess outcomes and evaluate new information,” according to McMaster.
McMaster said the team is loosely based on Operation Jackpot, a federal task force that convicted more than 100 cannabis smugglers in South Carolina during the 1980s.
“We believe this is the way to conquer this crisis. In fact, it’s the only way,” he said.