SANFORD, Fla.—Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation to increase penalties on individuals who expose law enforcement officers to fentanyl and to bring awareness to life-saving measures for someone experiencing an opioid overdose. Governor DeSantis also announced an expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Response (CORE) network from 12 counties to 29.

“Because of the Biden administration’s unwillingness to secure the southern border, law enforcement officers are encountering fentanyl at alarming rates,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I’m signing legislation today to keep officers safe on the job, and to further combat the opioid epidemic.”

“Opioid addiction has been a scourge in the lives of too many Floridians and too many Americans around the country,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis and the support of our legislators, we are continuing to take steps to address this human tragedy. CORE’s expansion will support and treat more Floridians and serve as a model for states around the country.”

“CORE’s holistic approach to combating the opioid epidemic has resulted in unprecedented results for Floridians battling addiction,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Florida is grateful for the Governor and First Lady’s innovative leadership, and the Department looks forward to continuing to work with partners and key stakeholders to support families on their path to recovery and resiliency.”

Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 718 and SB 66 into law.

SB 718 does the following:

  • Creates a second-degree felony for any adult who, through unlawful possession of dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl products, recklessly exposes any first responder to such fentanyl and that results in overdose or serious bodily injury.
  • Expands protections from prosecution for individuals who seek help in good faith due to the belief that they or someone they know is experiencing an overdose.

SB 66 does the following:

  • Designates June 6th as Revive Awareness Day.
  • Directs the Florida Department of Health to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid overdose and the safe use of opioid counteractants.

Governor DeSantis also announced that CORE has expanded from 12 counties to 17 additional counties in Florida. This includes Bay, Broward, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, and St. Lucie counties.

While nationwide statistics show that only 18.8% of adults with an opioid addiction have received medication to treat the addiction in the past year, CORE far exceeded the national average with 48.9% of patients receiving Medication Assisted Treatment. CORE providers have responded to nearly 18,000 emergency calls which resulted in a life saved through the administration of naloxone.

With the launch of CORE, Florida has also seen a reduction in the number of emergency medical service responses necessary for drug overdose. Recent state level data shows 607 fewer EMS responses to suspected overdoses—a 3% decrease since 2022. From January to June in 2023, CORE counties Duval and Escambia saw a drop of 176 and 146 EMS calls, respectively, for suspected opioid overdose from the same period in 2022. Pinellas County, another CORE county, had 406 fewer emergency medical service responses during the same time frame. This was the largest reduction in emergency medical service responses to suspected overdoses across the 12 CORE counties.

Thanks to programs like CORE, overdose deaths are on the decline in Florida. Data shows a 9% decrease—557 fewer deaths—from September 2022 to September 2023, compared to the previous year’s statewide count.



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