"BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Trump said Thursday he intends to declare a state of national emergency in response to the opioid crisis, a move that would give the federal government expanded powers and additional resources to prevent and treat overdoses. 

“We’re going to make it a national emergency," Trump said from his New Jersey golf club. "It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had." 

Trump said he is "drawing documents now" to officially label the crisis as a national emergency, a formal action that would have both symbolic and legal power. The last time a president took similar action was in 2009, when President Obama declared a one-year state of national emergency to prepare for the H1N1 influenza virus.

A formal presidential declaration — when coupled with a public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services — would give the administration additional powers to waive health regulations, pay for treatment programs, and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available.

"Declaring it a national emergency instantly identifies this crisis as the most important public health emergency we've had since this nomenclature came about," said James Hodge Jr., a law professor at Arizona State University who specializes in public health law and emergency preparedness. "This is that serious of a crisis."

Hodge said presidential action would focus national attention on a disease killing an average of 150 Americans a day. The governors of Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia have issued some form of emergency declaration on opioids in their states."