A federal judge has denied a request to hold emergency managers responsible for the opioid crisis in Washington State, which has infected more than 1,300 people and has resulted in at least five deaths in the past year.
The ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Paul Niemeyer, in Seattle, means the emergency managers, who had been charged with overseeing the state’s health care system, will remain in place.
But it doesn’t mean the federal government will have to intervene.
The state’s attorney general said he would seek a stay of the order while the judge considered his decision.
The state has been dealing with an opioid epidemic that has been fueled by an influx of prescription painkillers.
A third of Washington residents are now living with addiction, and nearly one in 10 residents has died from an opioid overdose in the last three years, according to the state.
The judge ordered that the state must establish a plan to deal with the epidemic, which is expected to cause at least another 2,000 deaths this year.
The judge also said that the emergency manager’s duties will be limited to managing the state system.
He also ordered that emergency managers must take steps to ensure that the overdose death rate doesn’t rise.
The emergency managers are trying to control the opioid supply and supply the opioid abuse problem by controlling the supply of painkillers and other opioid-related medications.
The ruling means the state will have a much tougher time maintaining its public health system than it did before the crisis began.