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Rep. Newhouse launches Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. (KOMO News)
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. (KOMO News)
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Communities locally and nationally are facing a fentanyl crisis.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican representing central Washington, is putting together a task force to tackle the issue.

"Nobody is immune from this." Newhouse said. "We're bringing together people that are experts in so many different areas."

The Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force — which plans to meet on a quarterly basis — includes law enforcement officers, addiction treatment groups, medical professionals, drug court personnel, school resource officer tribal leaders, elected officials and other community leaders.

Newhouse called this a community fight.

"They all bring different expertise to the table," he said. "Every facet, from enforcement to education and prevention and treatment."

RELATED: Fentanyl crisis disproportionately impacting Native Americans in King County

Preliminary data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Washington will have the second-highest increase in overdose deaths this year compared to all other U.S. states.

In Pierce County, a new report says opioid-related overdoses are now the "most common cause" of accidental deaths, outpacing car crashes and shootings. There has also been an 82% increase in fentanyl deaths in Pierce County alone in just a year.

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"A lot of the issues we're facing are going to be very similar so some of the solutions that we may come up with, I think, would absolutely be transferable to larger population centers," Newhouse said.

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