Editorial: Crisis demands accuracy

Published 2:47 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

As no reader needs to be told, the state of Ohio is deep into a crisis.

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage the state, claiming lives, destroying families and tearing communities apart.

In 2016, Ohio had the second highest overdose rate in the nation, moving the highest in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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The CDC said the epidemic continues to worsen across the country, with the overdose rate rising about 30 percent from 2016 to 2017.

In the Midwest, a jump of 69.7 percent was reported.

Which is why it is troubling when President Donald Trump, speaking in Columbus on Saturday at a campaign rally, declared “We also approved $6 billion for opioid. We are fighting opioid. It’s down 20 percent.”

Figures from 2018 are not available yet, so it is unclear where the president was getting that “20 percent” number.

This is not the first time the president has made such a claim about the crisis.

At a campaign rally in Tennessee in May, Trump stated “We got $6 billion for opioid and getting rid of the scourge that’s taking over our country. And the numbers are way down.”

In response, the White House pointed to an article from the Washington Post, which reported prescriptions were down 10 percent nationally in 2017.

But, as fact checking website Politifact stated, this does not mean overdoses drop as well.

According to CDC numbers for October 2017, overdoses were up from the previous year, 15 percent overall and 57 percent for synthetics such as Fentanyl — hardly “way down.”

As a result, Politifact labeled Trump’s claim “false.”

There are few families in Ohio who have been left untouched by the opioid epidemic. It is a public health emergency and it is imperative that our government provides accurate information on the subject.

For Trump to visit Ohio and make misleading boasts on this topic is highly irresponsible.

The administration owes it to the public to clarify this statement from the rally and provide documentation to back up the president’s claim.