First Lady Melania Trump is scheduled to visit an infant recovery center in Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 49,000 people that has been among the hardest hit by America’s opioid epidemic.
Trump visited Lily’s Place, a drug treatment center where staff ease help infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that stem from a newborn’s exposure to opioids during a mother’s pregnancy. The first lady said she hoped to help “open the conversation” around opioids.
“I just hope we give a voice to more places like [Lily’s Place],” she said.
In March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that created the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction, which is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The commission requested that the president declare a national state of emergency to help expedite the medical response to the public health crisis in Huntington.
The president held a campaign rally in Huntington in August, partly to celebrate West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Some advocates thought the president would declare a national state of emergency during the event, but he didn’t. Trump has yet to grant that declaration.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams told the NewsHour that he didn’t attend the rally, but added that “labels don’t matter.” It mattered more that the job got done, he said.
“What’s important is for us to identify a willingness to work together, to make West Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Williams said.
The first lady held her own roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis last month.
PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.