SAVE LIVES: Include Syringe Exchange & Harm Reduction Services in the Next Relief Package!

No matter what we look like or where we come from the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that at our core we are all human. Whether we live in rural counties, small towns, suburban areas or big cities; whether we’re black, brown or white…

Our ability to get and stay well depends on everyone having what we need to prevent, treat, and recover from illness.

Across the country we are losing loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneously, we continue to lose our loved ones to the overdose crisis. In 2019, nearly 72,000 people died from drug overdoses and numbers from the start of 2020 show that this year may be even worse.

Impacts from COVID-19, such as physical distancing and wide-ranging unemployment, have led to isolation, stress, and despair among many people, including people who use drugs. All of these factors are increasing overdose risk, and emerging evidence confirms fears that the overdose crisis is worsening during COVID-19.

The next COVID-19 relief package needs to include money for syringe services programs (SSPs) and harm reduction providers, so that the needs of people can be met and lives can be saved. SSPs and other harm reduction service providers engage individuals who use drugs and are vulnerable both to adverse drug-related outcomes and COVID-19. 

We call on the Senate leadership to include $58 million for syringe services programs (SSPs) and other harm reduction service providers.

Additionally, we ask for the removal of the ban on the use of federal funds to purchase syringes and other related supplies in the next COVID-19 relief package and in the FY21 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill.