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Photo: Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the nation's opioid crisis but brought important lessons on new treatment methods and the importance of public education campaigns, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) explained during an Axios virtual event on Thursday.

Why it matters: The pandemic "put the accelerator" on opioid addiction and overdoses nationwide because of people's increased isolation and disrupted treatment, Capito said.

  • In her state of West Virginia, opioid-related deaths shot up from roughly 800 or 900 deaths to over 1,200, Capito added.
  • "The the numbers are staggering. The numbers of overdoses have gone way back up in the communities that were starting to see them go down, and so the families affected are going way up," Capito said.

The big picture: The pandemic disrupted many of the in-person intervention methods that are crucial to opioid treatment, and returning to these is vital. But the pandemic also opened up doors that could prove instructive, Capito said.

  • "Telemedicine can have great promise," Capito said.
  • "I think we we need to find a way to make sure that we fortify telemedicine so that it can work" in conjunction with more high-contact, in-person intervention methods that have been successful in the past, she added.
  • "I am optimistic that we can deal with this better, because I think what we saw with the COVID reaction is what we need to be doing, and we are beginning to do much more effectively on the addiction side—and that's prevention and education."
  • "I do think that more emphasis at that point of the crisis is where we really need — have learned from COVID — would really be to our benefit."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Counterfeit pills surge in Tennessee

Prescription pills can be virtually identical to counterfeit lookalikes. Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

"A growing and troubling" trend is complicating the fight against the opioid crisis, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said at a news conference Monday.

  • Rausch teamed up with health officials to warn residents of a surge in counterfeit pills from drug dealers, and many of the pills are laced with lethal doses of fentanyl.

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.