Stafford County High School hosted Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin, as well as several legislators and members of the Administration on May 9 for an event marking Fentanyl Awareness Day. Several speakers, including the First Lady, Lieutenant Governor Sears, and Senator Bryce Reeves, testified to the dangers of fentanyl, sharing stories of friends and acquaintances who succumbed to overdoses, including the tragic case of a friend of the Youngkin family who died after unwittingly consuming a fentanyl-laced painkiller.
Stafford County Supervisor and VACo Immediate Past President Meg Bohmke, who attended the event with several members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors and officials from the County and the school division, said, “I was so pleased that the Governor came to one of our high schools to share this important message in such a direct way. It was clear that the students in attendance were paying careful attention and the fact that state officials could share these personal stories really hit home.”
As part of the program, staff from the Rappahannock Area Health District trained attendees on the use of naloxone to respond to a suspected overdose; First Lady Youngkin encouraged the students in the audience to share their knowledge with their peers, and pointed out that they may have the opportunity to use the REVIVE! training to save a life in the community at large, noting that an individual was recently revived from an overdose near the Executive Mansion in Richmond.
Governor Youngkin announced that he had ceremonially signed several bills from the 2023 General Assembly regarding substance use disorder earlier in the day, including legislation allowing any person to possess and administer naloxone nasal spray under certain conditions and directing relevant state agencies to develop a statewide comprehensive plan for the distribution of naloxone statewide. At the event, he signed Executive Order 26, which directs a multi-agency approach toward combating the proliferation of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths. Among the directives in the Executive Order are the following:
- Direction to the Department of General Services and the Department of Health to issue an RFP for naloxone nasal spray kits to ensure a steady, affordably supply, with further direction to allow other government entities, such as counties, to use a state contract to benefit from economies of scale in purchasing naloxone.
- Direction to the Department of Health to develop a cost-effective plan to use wastewater surveillance to detect fentanyl use, as well as a response strategy (including increased naloxone distribution and public awareness campaigns) as warranted.
- Direction to the Department of Social Services to develop a plan to offer wrap-around services and treatments to individuals caring for children whose parents have died of a drug overdose to reduce the trauma of the loss of a parent.
- Direction to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to establish a workgroup to improve pathways for individuals with substance use disorders to remain drug-free after release from incarceration.
- Direction to the Department of Health to work with local health departments to assist localities in establishing Overdose Fatality Review Teams (these teams are authorized in statute to review local overdose deaths, promote cooperation and coordination among relevant agencies, recommend changes within the local agencies to prevent overdose deaths, and to advise state agencies on changes to law, policy, or practice to prevent overdose deaths).
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle