HUNTINGTON — Friday, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) welcomed to West Virginia U.S. Drug Czar Jim Carroll, who serves as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The two met in Huntington where they discussed the impact of the coronavirus on drug overdose deaths.
The meeting marks Director Carroll’s second visit to the Mountain State this year. In February, Senator Capito hosted Director Carroll in southern West Virginia for several visits with community leaders focused around the state’s efforts to combat the drug epidemic.
Unfortunately, in West Virginia and across the nation, drug overdose deaths are rising amid the coronavirus pandemic, negating much of the progress seen over the past couple of years.
“It’s important for us to remember that while we are dealing with coronavirus, this is not the only health crisis we are battling. In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is critical to our efforts to combat this crisis in West Virginia and across the country, and Director Carroll has been a tremendous partner in this fight. I was glad to welcome him back to West Virginia today where he provided me with a status update on our efforts to tackle these challenges. He understands the issue, as well as its impact on rural communities like ours and I appreciate his commitment and willingness to see exactly what West Virginia is facing, how our state is coping, and why the administration’s full support is essential for us to successfully curb this epidemic,” Senator Capito said.
“Senator Capito and I share a commitment to the people of West Virginia: a relentless dedication to saving lives from the scourge of drug addiction. I was glad to reconnect with her today to update her on recent measures the Trump Administration is taking to address substance use disorder during the pandemic and intensify our efforts at the Southern Border to keep illegal drugs out of our communities. Under President Trump’s leadership, the once-‘Forgotten Men and Women of America’ are forgotten no more; under his continued leadership, they will always receive the attention they deserve,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.
Senator Capito also held a phone meeting with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield. During the call, Senator Capito and Dr. Redfield discussed ways they can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 and progress towards a vaccine. They also pledged to continue working together to reverse the rise in drug overdose deaths occurring during the last few months during the COVID pandemic. As a leader in the fight against the drug epidemic, Senator Capito has kept in close contact with both Director Carroll and Dr. Redfield on this issue, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
ONDCP coordinates the development, implementation, and assessment of U.S. drug policy and Director Carroll advises the president on drug control issues. Senator Capito has led the fight to maintain critical resources for addressing the opioid epidemic through ONCDP because, among other things, it administers two programs — the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities — that have been crucial in curbing drug addiction in West Virginia. Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, 23 participate in the HIDTA program.
Senator Capito has also met with Dr. Redfield several times over the past few months to remain updated on the CDC’s efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, Senator Capito questioned Dr. Redfield during a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the researching, manufacturing, and distributing of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.