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[00:00:04]

MY

[Austin Public Health Joint News Conference ]

NAME IS ADRIAN STIRK, AND I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF SERVING AS THE DIRECTOR FOR AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH.

I APPRECIATE YOUR PRESENCE THIS MORNING AS WE DISCUSS, UH, A VERY IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS IN OUR COMMUNITY, AND SOME EXCITING NEWS ABOUT WAYS WE CAN, UH, CONTINUE TO ADDRESS THIS MORNING.

I'M JOINED BY CONGRESSMAN BOYD DOGGETT, MAYOR WATSON, JUDGE BROWN, AND OUR HEALTH A AUTHORITY DEMAR WALKS.

AND NOW I'LL TURN IT OVER TO THE CONGRESSMAN.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, UH, AND THANK ALL OF YOU FOR BEING OUT HERE.

UH, AS YOU'RE WELL AWARE, LAST SPRING, UH, NOTING THE OPIOID CRISIS THAT WE HAVE HERE IN THIS COMMUNITY AS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF ACCIDENTAL DEATH.

JUDGE BROWN AND THE COMMISSIONER'S COURT UNANIMOUSLY DECLARED AN OPIOID PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY, UH, SINCE THEN, DESPITE DETERMINED EFFORTS HERE AT AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE GOOD WORK OF THE COUNTY AND THE LEADERSHIP OF THE JUDGE, UH, THE NUMBER OF DEATHS HAS CONTINUED TO SOAR.

UH, RECOGNIZING, UH, THIS GROWING CHALLENGE, AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH ASKED ME TO SECURE SOME DIRECT FEDERAL FUNDING, UH, AS IT DESIGNED NEW ARCHITECTURE TO MEET, UH, WHAT IS CLEARLY A GROWING HEALTH NEED.

TODAY, I'M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE, UH, THAT I HAVE SECURED A DIRECT FEDERAL APPROPRIATION OF 2 MILLION TO REINFORCE WHAT THE CITY AND THE COUNTY HAVE UNDERWAY TO WHAT IS A GENUINE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS.

THIS IS NOT A GRANT THAT WE MAY SEEK, UH, FUTURE GRANTS TO SUPPLEMENT AND CONTINUE THIS EFFORT.

IT IS A DIRECT, UH, APPROPRIATION TO ADDRESS, UH, OPIOID OVERDOSES, UH, EDUCATION OF OUR COMMUNITY AND PREVENTION AND RESPONSE, UH, WHEN WE'RE NOT ABLE TO PREVENT THESE OVERDOSES.

UH, AND WE EXPECT IT TO ARRIVE HERE FOR USE BY AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH.

UH, THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE, UH, THESE FUNDS, UH, THE FIRST REALLY DEDICATED SOLELY FOR THIS PURPOSE, UH, WILL FOCUS FIRST ON OVERDO DOSE PREVENTION, UH, MEETING THE, THE NEED, THE, THE, FOR THOSE AT RISK.

AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH IS ASSEMBLING, UH, A TEAM WHICH THEY CAN DISCUSS IN MORE DETAIL OF FULL-TIME PUBLIC HEALTH PEER RECOVERY COACHES TO CONDUCT THREE LEVEL INTERVENTIONS.

THIS WILL SUPPLEMENT, UH, WHAT JUDGE BROWN BEGAN AT THE COUNTY, UH, WITH EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH, ENSURING THAT OUR NEIGHBORS ARE LINKED TO THE APPROPRIATE PREVENTION, UH, TREATMENT AND HARM REDUCTION, AS WELL AS RECOVERY PROGRAMS. UH, CASE MANAGERS WILL CONDUCT OUTREACH AND MANAGEMENT OF NEIGHBORS WHO NEED IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE, BUT MAY NOT QUALIFY FOR THE EXISTING FACILITIES, HELPING THEM AT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

OUR FEDERAL FUNDING WILL EXPAND TRAINING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS, UH, REGARDING NARCAN, UH, WHICH IS MADE AVAILABLE IN MORE AND MORE COMMUNITY LOCATIONS, THANKS TO, UH, GOOD WORK HERE BETWEEN NONPROFITS CONCERNED ABOUT THIS AND AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, WHICH ALREADY PROVIDED A LARGE NUMBER OF DOSES OF NORKIN TO BE AVAILABLE AT BARS AND LIBRARIES, AND MORE PLACES.

UH, FUNDING WILL ALSO, UH, SUPPORT TREATMENT AND PEER RECOVERY COUNSELING SERVICES AND LAUNCHING A NEW AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH HEALTH EQUITY HELPLINE.

ON THE EDUCATION SIDE, UH, THE FUNDING WILL SUPPORT A MAJOR ACROSS THE COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN, FOCUSING ON THE PREVENTION OF DRUG USE, THE RISK OF SUBSTANCE USE AND ABUSE AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES AVAILABLE IN TREATMENT RECOVERY, HARM REDUCTION, AND SELF DISPOSAL OF UNUSED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

AS WE'VE SEEN, UH, THIS PAST YEAR, THE OVERDOSE STATISTICS TICK UP ACCESS, UH, REALLY ACROSS THE COMMUNITY.

AND WHILE OFTEN FENTANYL AND OVERDOSES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOMELESS, WHERE IT IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM, UH, IT'S CLEAR FROM THE DEATHS WE'VE SEEN OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, UH, IN NEIGHBORING COUNTIES, UH, THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT AFFLICTS A BROAD PART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

AND JUST AS WE HAVE THE CITY AND THE COUNTY, UH, COMING TOGETHER TODAY WITH FEDERAL SUPPORT, WE'VE GOT TO EMBRACE THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY.

IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT JUST AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH OR US AS ELECTED OFFICIALS CAN HANDLE.

THE IDEA IS TO GET MORE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT INFORMED PEOPLE, UH, TO HELP US, UH, ADDRESS THIS CRITICAL ISSUE.

UH, WE WILL ALSO FOCUS, UH, WITH THIS NEW FEDERAL MONEY ON HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS THEMSELVES IN AN EFFORT TO PREVENT CYCLES OF DEPENDENCY, UH, BECAUSE SOME OF THIS RESULTS, OF COURSE, FROM OVERRELIANCE IN PAIN REDUCTION ON OPIOIDS, AND LOOKING FOR NON-OPIOID PAIN MANAGEMENT OPTIONS.

[00:05:01]

UH, THOUGH WE ARE BROUGHT TOGETHER BY A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS, UH, IT'S GOOD TO STAND HERE WITH DR.

STIRRUP, UH, WITH DIRECTOR STIRRUP AND DR.

WALKS THE MAYOR, THE JUDGE, UH, THE MAYOR HAVING EXPRESSED, UH, SUCH CONCERN ABOUT THIS OVER PAST MONTHS IN TALKING WITH NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS ACROSS THE COMMUNITY, AND NOW PROVIDING THE LEADERSHIP THAT WE NEED AT THE CITY LEVEL, WE'RE BASICALLY TRYING TO BRING ALL HANDS ON DECK, CITY, COUNTY, AND FEDERAL, UH, AND WORK TOGETHER TO FIND SOME ANSWERS.

UH, LET'S HEAR FROM DR.

WALKS, WHO I'M SURE CAN PROVIDE, UH, SOME OF THOSE.

THANK YOU, DR.

WALKS.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN DOUGGA, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

UM, BASED ON THE DATA FROM THE TRAVIS COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE, ACCIDENTAL OVERDOSE DEATHS FROM JANUARY, 2022 TO JUNE OF 2022 REACHED, UH, 199.

UM, AND THAT IS THAT GROWING ISSUE IN AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY.

AND THE EXPLOSION OF THAT NUMBER OF DEATHS IN THAT FIRST SIX MONTH PERIOD, UM, HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS POINT WHERE WE NEED DESPERATELY TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE AS A COAL COMMUNITY.

UM, WE SAW A COMMON THEME AS HALF OF THOSE DEATHS, UH, 59% OF THEM INVOLVED FENTANYL.

AND IN 2021, FENTANYL ONLY ACCOUNTED FOR 36 OF THOSE DEATHS.

SO THESE TRAGEDIES ARE AFFECTING EVERYONE.

VICTIMS OF ACCIDENTAL OVERDOSES RANGE FROM TEENAGERS TO OLDER ADULTS.

ONE PILL CAN KILL NO MATTER WHAT YOUR AGE OR GENDER.

IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT YOU ONLY TAKE DRUGS THAT ARE PRESCRIBED BY A DOCTOR AS THE FIRST PILL THAT YOU TAKE FROM A STRANGER COULD BE THE ONE THAT KILLS YOU.

AND SO THIS CAMPAIGN THAT WE'RE, UM, RA THAT WE'VE BEEN, UH, CONDUCTING OVER THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF WITH THE SUPPORT OF ALL THOSE BEHIND ME, WILL CONTINUE TO HELP BRING FORTH THE MESSAGE THAT IS NECESSARY FOR US IN TEXAS TO DO ALL THAT WE CAN TO SAVE LIVES.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL TURN THIS OVER TO MAYOR WATSON.

THANK YOU, DOCTOR.

WELL, THANK ALL OF YOU FOR BEING HERE.

UH, THIS IS, HAS, HAS BEEN POINTED OUT A VERY IMPORTANT, UH, ISSUE AND A VERY IMPORTANT TIME IN AUSTIN.

I WANNA SAY A BIG THANKS, UH, ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF AUSTIN, TO OUR CONGRESSMAN, CONGRESSMAN LLOYD DOGGETT, FOR HIS EFFORTS TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY.

UH, CONGRESSMAN DOGGETT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A GREAT PARTNER WITH AUSTIN AND, AND CONTINUES TO BE, UH, THAT, THAT SORT OF PARTNER IN HELPING BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER, BRING DIFFERENT GROUPS TOGETHER SO THAT WE CAN ADDRESS, UH, CRISES LIKE THIS.

AND, AND WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE IT.

AS DR.

WALKS JUST NOTED THAT WE ARE IN A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND ACCIDENTAL OVER OVERDOSES HAVE INCREASED AT AS, AND SHE POINTED OUT THAT DATA AT AN ALARMING RATE, AND THE THE SCOURGE IS DESTROYING LIVES IN OUR COMMUNITY.

LAST FALL, WE WERE FORTUNATE TO RECEIVE ALMOST 10,000 DOSES OF NARCAN.

UH, THAT WAS EARLIER THIS YEAR.

THEY WERE PROVIDED TO THE TEXAS HARM HARM REDUCTION ALLIANCE, AND WE'RE JOINED, UH, BY, BY THE HARM REDUCTION ALLIANCE HERE.

BUT THAT DRUG IS IN HIGH DEMAND AND SHORT SUPPLY.

SO WHILE WE HAVE LIFESAVING MEDICATION THAT IS CRITICAL TO, IN THESE EMERGENCY SITUATIONS, IT'S NOT AN OVERALL SOLUTION TO THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM.

WE HAVE TO HAVE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES SUCH AS INCREASING.

AND AS DR.

WALKS AND CONGRESSMAN DOGGETT POINTED OUT, INCREASING THE AWARENESS OF THE DANGERS OF THESE DRUGS, THAT IS GOING TO BE A KEY TO PREVENTING THESE OVERDOSES.

I WANNA SAY THAT THE CITY OF AUSTIN IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT OUR RESIDENTS HAVE THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THIS THREAT.

UH, THE INFUSION OF FEDERAL MONEY WILL ENABLE US TO EXPAND OUR COMMUNICATION ABOUT THE RISK OF OPIOID ADDICTION AND OVERDOSES.

IN ADDITION, UH, CAUSE OF THIS, WE WILL BE ABLE TO SUPPORT MORE SUBSTANCE MISUSE SERVICES THROUGH OUR SOCIAL SERVICES GRANT.

UM, IT'S GOING TO TAKE, AS THE CONGRESSMAN AND THE DOCTOR HAVE POINTED OUT, ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.

AND I'M VERY PLEASED TO BE STANDING UP HERE TODAY WITH OUR TRAVIS COUNTY JUDGE, ANDY BROWN, WHO HAS LONG BEEN RAISING ALARMS ABOUT THIS GROWING PROBLEM IN OUR COMMUNITY.

AND SO I TURN IT OVER TO, UH, JUDGE BROWN BY THANKING HIM FOR HIS LEADERSHIP.

THANKS, MAYOR.

UM, YEAH, THANKS SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE TODAY.

I YOU WANNA THANK CONGRESSMAN DOGGETT.

HE IS THE MOST RESPONSIVE CONGRESSMAN, UH, ANYWHERE.

AND WHETHER IT'S THE WINTER STORM, WHETHER

[00:10:01]

IT'S COVID, WHETHER IT'S THIS ISSUE THAT IS KILLING OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS AND LOVED ONES, UM, HE'S HELPING ONCE AGAIN.

SO I WANT TO THANK HIM FOR THAT.

I WANNA THANK MAYOR WATSON AND AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH FOR THEIR PARTNERSHIP AND THIS AS WELL.

ALSO, JUST WANNA TAKE A MOMENT TO THANK KATE GRAZIANI AND THE TEXAS HARM REDUCTION ALLIANCE, WHO, FRANKLY, WITHOUT THAT TOWN HALL THEY HAD AT THE VERY BE, OR I DON'T KNOW, LAST APRIL OR MAY, UH, THAT REALLY SPURRED US INTO ACTION, REALLY HIGHLIGHTED THE FACT OF WHAT WAS GOING ON, AND, AND WE'VE TRIED TO RUN WITH IT SINCE THEN AND WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH KATE.

SO THANK YOU.

UM, OVERDOSES, THEY'RE THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF DEATH, ACCIDENTAL DEATH IN OUR COMMUNITY, AND THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DYING BECAUSE OF THIS IS SKYROCKETING.

UH, THE MEDICAL EXAMINER SHOWED THAT THE, IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 2022, THE, THE DEATHS EQUALED ALL OF 2021.

IT IS GOING UP QUITE A BIT, AND IT'S, IT'S UNACCEPTABLE.

THESE ARE PREVENTABLE DEATHS.

UM, MORE IMPORTANTLY, THESE ARE PEOPLE THAT LIVE HERE IN TRAVIS COUNTY.

IT'S OUR BROTHERS, OUR MOTHERS, OUR BEST FRIENDS, OUR COWORKERS, OUR NEIGHBORS WHO ARE DYING.

AND IT'S NOT JUST ONE GROUP.

OVERDOSES IMPACT EVERY PART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

THE NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO DIE FROM A DRUG OVERDOSE WITH FENTANYL IN THEIR SYSTEM IS UP 150%.

THAT'S IN THAT FIRST SIX MONTHS LAST YEAR.

THE NUMBER OF BLACK RESIDENTS WHO DIE FROM A DRUG OVERDOSE WITH FENTANYL IN THEIR SYSTEM IS UP NEARLY 180%.

THE NUMBER OF HISPANIC RESIDENTS WHO DIE FROM A DRUG OVERDOSE WITH FENTANYL IN THEIR SYSTEM IS UP 155%.

THESE NUMBERS ARE TROUBLING, AND IT'S VERY LIKELY THAT THEY'RE GONNA GET WORSE.

WHEN WE SEE THE NEXT REPORT IN APRIL, UM, THE NUMBER OF PREVENTABLE FENTANYL RELATED OVERDOSE DEATHS WILL QUITE LIKELY DOUBLE, AND OVERALL DOSES WILL DWARF THE 2021 TOTAL.

BUT WE'RE GONNA SEE THAT OFFICIAL REPORT AGAIN IN, IN APRIL FROM THE MEDICAL EXAMINER.

UM, WE REALLY NEED TO TAKE ACTION TO CHANGE THE TRAJECTORY OF THIS CRISIS.

AND TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT AND THE INVESTMENT OF FEDERAL FUNDS IS A MONUMENTAL INVESTMENT TO, TO DO THAT.

AND IT'S A GOOD STEP IN BATTLING THIS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS, BUT WE NEED EVERYBODY TO ACT.

SO IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH AN ADDICTION, UH, TO DRUGS, REACH OUT TO PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO CAN HELP.

REACHING OUT IS NOT A WEAKNESS.

IT MIGHT SAVE YOUR LIFE.

IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO CARRY NALOXONE AND KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

I HAVE SOME HERE THAT I CARRY IN MY BACKPACK WITH ME.

I'D ENCOURAGE EVERYBODY TO TRY TO DO THE SAME.

UM, IT'S LIKE HAVING A FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN YOUR HOUSE THAT YOU NEVER WANT OR EXPECT TO USE, BUT IT'S LIFESAVING TO HAVE IT THERE.

UM, THE BIG PICTURE IS THAT THIS IS A TEAM EFFORT LIKE CONGRESSMAN DOGGETT SAID, BETWEEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE COUNTY GOVERNMENT, THE CITY GOVERNMENT, AND I HOPE THE STATE GOVERNMENT, THE, THE SESSION IS GOING TO DECIDE THE, THE FATE OF MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT FRANKLY COULD BE USED TO HELP END THE, THE NEED FOR NARCAN AND NALOXONE IN THIS COMMUNITY BY, BY FU FULLY FUNDING AND BUYING IT FOR US.

UM, WITH PARTNERS IN BARS ACROSS DOWNTOWN AUSTIN THAT ARE NOW SUPPLYING NARCAN THAT HAVE NARCAN IN THEIR BARS, OUR INVESTMENT ENSURES THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM FROM THOSE WHO KNOW IT BEST, PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVED EXPERIENCE WITH ADDICTION.

THE COUNTY FUNDED HIRING PEER RECOVERY COACHES TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES FOR RECOVERIES OUTREACH SERVICES.

AND THIS FUNDING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL HELP MULTIPLY THOSE EFFORTS.

THEY'RE GIVING US VITAL INFORMATION NEEDED TO BETTER RESPOND MOVING FORWARD.

IN CLOSING, A DRUG ADDICTION OR RECREATIONAL DRUG USE SHOULD NOT BE A DEATH SENTENCE.

AND THIS INVESTMENT IS GONNA HELP US SAVE LIVES.

AND SO I'M GONNA SAY LITTLE BIT OF THE SAME THING IN SPANISH, UM, FOR FRED AND OTHERS THAT ARE HERE TODAY, UM, ME THAT AS NUESTRO MADRES AND DE

[00:15:09]

AND MEDICAL FOR, AND YES, SIR EL ACT.

THANK Y'ALL VERY MUCH.

AND I'LL PASS IT OVER TO ADRIAN STIR AGAIN, MAYBE, OR TO JEN ACTUALLY ASK.

WE NOTED IT UP DURING, UH, QUESTIONS.

GREAT.

I'M, AND I'M GONNA JUST UNDERLINE TWO IMPORTANT POINTS THAT, UH, THE JUDGE MADE.

UH, YOU'VE SEEN THAT THIS IS CITY, COUNTY, AND FEDERAL.

THERE'S NOT ANYONE FROM THE STATE HERE.

UH, WE WANT THAT STATE PARTNERSHIP, AS JUDGE BROWN SAID AS WELL, USUALLY IN TEXAS ON HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE MATTERS, THE STATE IS MAINLY PASSING THROUGH FEDERAL DOLLARS.

THEY'RE ADMINISTERING, THEY'RE NOT CONTRIBUTING.

UH, THERE IS THE POTENTIAL WITH THE SURPLUS AS IT IS FOR THE STATE TO DO MORE.

LAST YEAR, THEY RAN OUT OF NA EARLY AND DID NOT SUPPLEMENT THE FEDERAL DOLLARS THAT THEY WERE ADMINISTERING WITH STATE DOLLARS, WHICH WOULD'VE BEEN REALLY HELPFUL.

THERE ARE ALSO A NUMBER OF THINGS HAPPENING AT THE STATE LEVEL THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT TO THIS EFFORT.

AND I WANT PARTICULARLY TO, UH, PRAISE, UH, REPRESENTATIVE CHERYL COLE, REPRESENTATIVE JAMES TELECO AND REPRESENTATIVE DONNA HOWARD, WHO HAVE BEEN WORKING ON SOME OF THE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT ARE NECESSARY TO GO ALONG WITH THESE DOLLARS.

SO THAT, UH, FENTANYL STRIPS, AS IS TRUE IN 19 OR 20 OTHER STATES, CAN BE LEGAL DETERMINED WHETHER THERE IS FENTANYL IN ANOTHER, UH, UH, DRUG MIXED IN WITH ALL THE DANGER, DEADLY, UH, CONSEQUENCES OF USING IT.

AND THEN SECOND THING IS, UH, A BETTER KIND OF GOOD SAMARITAN LAW SO THAT THOSE WHO ARE HELPING, UH, DON'T FIND THEMSELVES BEING PROSECUTED FOR BEING ASSOCIATED WITH ANY KIND OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA.

AND OUR, OUR TRAVIS COUNTY DELEGATION IS ON THIS.

UH, CLEARLY THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT AFFECTS PEOPLE OF BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES AND NO POLITICAL PARTY.

WE NEED BIPARTISAN COOPERATION AT THE STATE LEVEL TO CHANGE THE LAW AND TO GET MORE STATE RESOURCES.

AND THEN THE SECOND POINT THAT I ALLUDED TO INITIALLY, BUT, UH, THE JUDGE AND THE MAYOR, UH, MADE IT ALL THE MORE CLEAR.

THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT ONE PORTION OF OUR COMMUNITY.

IT'S NOT, IT WOULD BE, THERE WOULD BE REASON ENOUGH FOR US TO BE CONCERNED AND INVOLVED IF IT ONLY AFFECTED PEOPLE THAT WE SEE ON THE STREETS.

BUT THIS COULD BE YOUR GRANDMOTHER WHO GOT HOOKED ON OPIOIDS BECAUSE OF PAIN.

UH, IT COULD BE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WHO'S EXPERIMENTING WITH DRUGS AND GETS FENTANYL MIXED IN THERE.

SO WE, WE REALLY NEED TO ENGAGE ALL THE COMMUNITY AND RECOGNIZE WHAT A BROAD SOCIAL CHALLENGE WE FACE, BUT THAT IF WE ENGAGE ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT AND BROAD SECTORS OF OUR COMMUNITY, WE CAN REALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

QUESTIONS, WE'VE GOT THE EXPERTS TO ANSWER THEM.

KATIE? YEAH, I'M WITH KATIE.

UM, I WAS WONDERING IF THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME AUSTIN GOT FEDERAL FUNDING FOR, I BELIEVE IT IS.

UH, AND, UH, DIRECTOR STIR, UH, WORK WITH US LAST SPRING IN PREPARING THE REQUEST.

UH, WHILE THERE'VE BEEN OTHER FEDERAL FUNDING COMING THROUGH FOR OTHER SOURCES, THIS IS THE FIRST REALLY, UH, LONG-TERM FEDERAL FUNDING, UH, FOR OPIOID ABUSE.

AND MY REQUEST TO GET IT, UH, IS A DIRECT RESPONSE, UH, TO HER REQUEST THAT THIS IS SUCH A KEY ISSUE AND, AND THE WORK THAT THE JUDGE HAS BEEN DOING, UH, TO ADDRESS IT LOCALLY.

THANK YOU.

AND ALSO, UM, EARLIER IN LATER LAST YEAR, YOU GUYS MENTIONED THAT IT'S HUNDRED 18 DEATHS IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS.

IS THAT EVERY NOW 1 99, ANDY? YEAH, I THINK, IF I REMEMBER, I, TOM, IS IT 118? WAS FENTANYL DEATHS 199 OVERALL DEATHS.

AND SO IT LOOKS LIKE THE REPORT HAS NOT COME OUT YET, BUT IT CERTAINLY LOOKS LIKE WE WILL.

UM, THAT WOULD HAPPEN AGAIN IN THE SECOND SIX MONTHS.

SO WE'LL KNOW MORE DETAILS THEN.

BUT 118 WAS FENTANYL, 199 TOTAL OVERDOSE DEATHS.

YEAH.

ACCIDENTAL.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS, UH, JUST IN CASE, AND PLEASE LAY OUT, UH, EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE GONNA DO WITH THIS MONEY COMING.

CAN HIRE WHERE IT'S GONNA GO.

I BELIEVE THERE ARE NINE NEW PEOPLE, BUT YOU KNOW ALL THE DETAILS.

UH, PLEASE.

UH, THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTION.

UH, I THINK THE FIRST THING THAT WE WANNA DO IS REALLY TURN, UH,

[00:20:01]

FUNDING OVER TO THE EXPERTS THAT ARE DOING BOOTS ON THE GROUND.

AND SO THERE'LL BE A PUSH TO, TO ADD TO EXISTING SOCIAL SERVICE CONTRACTS AND COMMUNITY.

UM, THE SECOND THING THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO DO IS TO HAVE A DEDICATED, UH, EDUCATION CAMPAIGN, UM, WITH SOME PURCHASED MEDIA.

UM, WE DO A LOT NOW THROUGH EARNED MEDIA AND THROUGH, UH, SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT TO REALLY GET THE MESSAGE OUT, UM, THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT AFFECTS ALL ASPECTS OF OUR COMMUNITY.

UM, THE OTHER, UH, POINT WILL BE TO EXPAND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES.

SO TO ARM A COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER, A COLLEAGUE, A JUDGE WITH THE TOOLS AND THE KNOWLEDGE TO BE ABLE TO ADMINISTER NARCAN IN ANY SITUATION SO THAT THERE ARE INCREASED OPPORTUNITIES FOR TREATMENT.

UM, THE OTHER THING WOULD BE TO, AND I BELIEVE, I DON'T WANNA GIVE A NUMBER, BUT IS TO INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF PEER RECOVERY COACHES.

AND AGAIN, TO SUPPORT THAT REALLY GROUND LEVEL NETWORK OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT SO THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO, SOMEONE DOESN'T HAVE TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO SEEK TREATMENT VERSUS POTENTIALLY BEING IN A SITUATION IN A LEGAL SITUATION.

LET'S JUST SAY WE WANNA, WE WANT TREATMENT TO BE AN ACCESSIBLE, READILY AVAILABLE OPTION TO ANYONE WHO FINDS THEMSELVES IN A SITUATION.

HOPE THAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTION.

YES, MA'AM.

HEY, UM, CAN YOU ALSO GIVE A TIMELINE ABOUT HOW MEDICINE? WELL, UM, THAT WILL DEPEND ON WHEN THE FUNDS ARE RECEIVED BY THE CITY AND WE GO THROUGH ALL THOSE PROCESSES, RIGHT? BUT WITHIN, UM, THE FIRST FEW MONTHS, UH, THE FIRST STEP WILL BE TO GET THE MONEY TO OUR AGENCIES THAT ALREADY RECEIVED FUNDING FROM AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH TO BE ABLE TO GIVE THEM ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.

AND THEN WE'LL GO THROUGH THE HIRING PROCESS TO GET THE PEER RECOVERY COACHES ONLINE.

THE TEAM IS ALREADY PLANNING HOW TO EXPAND THE PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION CAMPAIGN.

SO I THINK THE FIRST TWO THINGS THAT YOU WILL SEE IS MORE INFORMATION AND COMMUNITY, AND THEN INCREASE EFFORTS FROM OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS AS THEY RECEIVE THAT INFLUX OF FUNDING.

YES, MA'AM.

OFFICER AMERICAN STATEMENT.

SO HOW MUCH HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN SPENDING A YEAR ON THIS? HOW MANY, UM, PEER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS DO YOU GUYS HAVE? SO THE CITY DOES NOT CURRENTLY HAVE ANY PEER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS.

OUR INVESTMENTS FOR SUBSTANCE USE ARE AROUND 2 MILLION.

AGAIN, WE WANT TO SUPPORT THE EFFORTS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN COMMUNITY.

SO WE HAVE, UM, WE FUND TEXAS HARM REDUCTION AND SOME OTHER AGENCIES TO PROVIDE SUPPORT IN COMMUNITY.

UM, AND WE ARE CURRENTLY DOING SOME BASELINE TRAINING WITH A P STAFF OR PLANNING THAT FOR THE USE OF NARCAN AND MAKING SURE THAT OUR COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS ARE PREPARED TO, UM, DELIVER ASSISTANCE AND ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO COMMUNITY ON THOSE ONE-ON-ONE INTERACTIONS.

WHEN WE'RE TALKING TO FOLKS ABOUT COVID OR ABOUT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE OR OTHER, UM, HEALTH ISSUES, WE ARE GONNA ADD THIS TO THEIR REPERTOIRE.

SO THE CURRENT CARE SUPPORT SPECIALIST, THEY'RE IN OTHER YES, MA'AM.

CENTRAL HEALTH OR OH, WITH THE, YEAH, WE'RE THE COUNTY SOME MM-HMM.

PEER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS THROUGH WE'RE GIVING COMMUNITIES AND RECOVERY FUNDING.

THAT'S GREAT.

THEY'RE THE ONES THAT ARE HIRING THOSE PEOPLE.

BUT AGAIN, OUR TOTAL INVESTMENT TILL NOW HAS BEEN ABOUT HALF A MILLION DOLLARS.

SO THIS $2 MILLION, FRANKLY, IS A, IS A WELCOME ADDITION.

YES.

SO HALF A MILLION FROM THE COUNTY AND 2 MILLION FROM THE CITY.

SO I UNDERSTAND THE 2 MILLION THAT CITY HAS IS FOR ALL FORMS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE.

RIGHT.

IT'S NOT JUST FOR THIS PROBLEM.

SO IT'S A LITTLE LESS THAN THAT.

YES, SIR.

ANY OTHERS? AND HOW LONG WILL THIS MONEY LAST? I BELIEVE IT'S A TWO YEAR AWARD.

IS IT ENOUGH? ? NO, , IT'S NEVER ENOUGH.

BUT WE, WE HOPE THAT WE'LL BE ABLE TO LEVERAGE THE GOOD WORK FROM THIS FUNDING AND OTHER WORK THAT'S GOING ON IN COMMUNITY TO, UM, OPEN US UP TO OTHER GRANT OPPORTUNITIES.

AND AGAIN, THE STATE I THINK HAS A ROLE HERE WHERE THE, THE THING THAT THE BULK OF THE HALF MILLION THAT THIS COUNTY HAS PUT INTO IT FROM OUR LOCAL TAX BASE, WHICH IS NOT BIG COMPARED TO THE STATE, HAS GONE TO BUY NARCAN OR NALOXONE.

SO THE STATE COULD STEP IN WITH THEIR SURPLUS LIKE CONGRESSMAN DOGA WAS SAYING, AND MAKE THAT SOMETHING THAT LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DON'T HAVE TO BEAR THE, THE BURDEN OF ANYMORE AND FUND IT FOR THE ENTIRE STATE, WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE ADVOCATING FOR.

LAST QUESTION, KATIE.

YEAH.

UM, SO YOU GUYS MENTIONED WORKING WITH HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, HOW THAT WORKS, HEALTHCARE EXPERT.

SO WE ARE, UM, TALKING IN, UH, THOSE FORUMS WHERE HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS GATHER TO GIVE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, UM, AND TO EDUCATE ON, UH, HOW TO MESSAGE TO DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS AND TO TALK

[00:25:01]

ABOUT, UM, STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO HELP THOSE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE ENCOUNTERED IN HEALTHCARE WHO NEED HELP WITH DEPENDENCE, UH, DRUG DEPENDENCE.

THEN WE HAVE OUR PARTNER HERE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS.

UM, AND QUESTION THAT HAS TO DO WITH GEOGRAPHY.

ARE THERE ANY AREAS, COUNTY OR NEED SPECIAL ATTENTION? I THINK IF YOU LOOK AT THE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S REPORT HAS ADDRESSES WHERE PEOPLE EITHER DIED OR LIVED WHEN THEY, WHEN THEY PASSED AWAY.

AND SO WE'RE STILL WORKING WITH, UM, AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY EMS TO GET MORE DATA ABOUT PEOPLE WHO DID NOT DIE OF AN OVERDOSE, BUT STILL OVERDOSED AND COMPILE ALL THAT.

UM, WE'RE HOPING TO WORK, I KNOW WITH UT ON THAT THEY'RE, THEY'RE WORKING SOME WITH THAT AS WELL.

JUST A, I I HATE TO MAKE ANY STATEMENTS CUZ I'M NOT A PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL, BUT IT DOES SEEM LIKE ALONG I 35 IS KIND OF UP AND DOWN.

IT IS IS A, THE LARGE PLACE THERE, THE STATUTE GATHERED ABOUT THE INCREASE IN, UH, THIS PROBLEM IN THE HISPANIC AND AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY ARE SIGNIFICANT, BUT THEY'RE ALSO SIGNIFICANT, ALMOST NEARLY AS HIGH AMONG WOMEN.

YEAH.

JUST GENERALLY IN OUR COMMUNITY.

SO I DO THINK IT'S COMMUNITY WIDE.

WE DO NEED TO FOCUS ON THE GEOGRAPHIC AREAS THAT HAVE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM, BUT ALL OF TRAVIS COUNTY IS SUBJECT TO THIS.

THANK YOU.

WE'RE ACTUALLY SEEING THE DEATHS OCCURRING ACROSS THE CITY.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MAP THAT WAS CREATED BY THE MEDICAL EXAMINER, THE DEATHS ARE IN ALL ZIP CODES AND YOU'LL HAVE ANOTHER REPORT OUT IN APRIL ON THAT, I BELIEVE.

SURE.

OKAY.

, , THANK YOU SO MUCH.

UM, ALSO REGARDING GEOGRAPHY.

I LOOKED AT THE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S REPORT.

IT SEEMS LIKE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO OVERDOSE, OVERDOSE IN THEIR HOME.

UM, SO WHILE THERE'S A LOT OF OUTREACH TO PUT NARCAN AND BARS AND OTHER PLACES AROUND THE COMMUNITY, IS THERE ANY SORT OF OUTREACH TO GET PEOPLE WHERE THEY'VE LIVE? THAT'S WHERE TALKING TO HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS IS HELPFUL BECAUSE, UH, PART OF THE PRACTICE OF, UH, DIS DISPENSING OR PRESCRIBING MEDICATIONS THAT ARE OPIOIDS, UH, CAN AND UH, SHOULD INCLUDE, UM, DISCUSSION AND, AND EVALUATION OF WHETHER OR NOT IT'S APPROPRIATE TO GIVE THAT PERSON OR A FAMILY MEMBER, UH, PRESCRIPTION OF THE, UM, NALOXONE SPRAY SO THAT IF THERE'S AN ISSUE THAT DEVELOPS IN THE HOME, UM, SOMEONE IN THAT'S, UH, PRESENT CAN USE THAT TO HELP RESUSCITATE SOMEONE WHO'S OVERDOSED.

AND, AND THAT'S, UH, A BIG PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN TOO IS, IS A JUDGE WAS REFERENCING.

UH, SO THAT IF THERE'S ANY SUSPECTED, UH, ABUSE IN YOUR FAMILY OR IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, UH, THAT YOU DO LIKE THE JUDGE DOES AND CARRY IT AS YOU MIGHT A FIRST AID KIT TO BE AVAILABLE TO SAVE A LIFE.

YEAH.

I ALSO THINK THAT SPEAKS TO THE POLICY INITIATIVE THAT YOU SPOKE ABOUT SO THAT FOLKS WILL BE ABLE TO CALL 9 1 1 FOR AND GET HELP WITHOUT FEAR OF RETRIBUTION FOR HAVING, UH, DRUGS OR DRUG PARAPHERNALIA ON THEM.

AND SO IT IS REALLY AN EFFORT THAT WILL INVOLVE EDUCATION, UH, PROACTIVE PROGRAMMING, BUT ALSO SOME POLICY CHANGES.

AND THAT'S WHERE THIS GROUP ADVOCACY WORK, US HERE AND YOU IN THESE SEATS AND ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE, ALL OF EVERYONE WHO'S WATCHING IT REALLY TAKES ALL OF US.

WE HAVE WILLIAM HERE, HE IS IN THE REGISTERED.

IF YOU ARE REQUESTING ANY ONE-ON-ONES, UH, PLEASE LET HIM KNOW AND WE'LL BE ABLE TO RECORD.

AND THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH.

AS YOU CAN TELL, UH, WE DON'T HAVE A PANACEA, BUT HOPEFULLY WE HAVE SOME PROGRESS.

THANK YOU.

THANKS.

AND PRETEND IT'S ME.

YOU ARE SEATING IN YOUR DREAMS AND I KNOW THAT I SHOULD LET YOU GO AND SET MY OWN HEART, BUT I LOVE EVERYTHING.

YOU DON'T LOVE ME.

I LOVE YOU.