HEATHROW, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis and the first lady are holding a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon regarding the opioid crisis.
During the event, the governor announced a $5 million pilot program to help fight the crisis.
The program, called "Support to Communities: Fostering Opioid Recovery Through Workforce Development" was provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The announcement was made at Seminole State College in Heathrow, Florida, north of Orlando.
The governor said the money will help people fighting addiction and help them gain employment during their substance abuse recovery.
DeSantis said overdoes increased 62% in Florida over the last six months compared to last year.
"This new pilot program will focus on connecting individuals who have been impacted by opioid abuse, addiction and other substance use disorders with the resources they need to recover and find meaningful employment in their communities," DeSantis said.
The governor said the money would be used across the state.
DeSantis was also joined by Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Dane Eagle at the event.
Stats compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse said nearly 68% of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida involved opioids in 2018. This was a total of 3,189 fatalities.
Florida providers wrote 53.7 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions.
Speaking on tourism at the end of the briefing, the governor said he wants international travel restrictions imposed by the federal government to be lifted to allow tourists from overseas to visit Florida.