Gov. Janet Mills will convene a virtual Opioid Response Summit on Thursday, less than a week after the state reported a surge in drug overdose deaths in the first quarter of this year.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. surgeon general during the Obama administration and briefly during the Trump administration, will be the keynote speaker. About 1,000 people are expected to participate in the online summit, which will run from 8:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Murthy issued the first surgeon general’s report calling for expanded access to prevention and substance use disorder treatment and recognizing addiction as a chronic illness rather than a moral failing, the Mills administration said in a news release.

Last week the Maine Attorney General’s Office reported 127 overdose deaths during the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 23 percent over the last quarter of 2019. The opioid crisis is a persistent public health threat in Maine, with deaths peaking at 417 in 2017. If current trends hold, Maine will surpass that total with about 470 overdose deaths in 2020.

While the pandemic is contributing to overdoses, public health experts said an increasing number of stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are now being laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerous opioid that can cause overdoses in low amounts.

The summit will discuss how the government can respond to the opioid epidemic, prevention, treatment and recovery support.

Among those making presentations will be Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey; Dr. Jessica Pollard, director of Maine DHHS Office of Behavioral Health; Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Maine CDC director; and Gordon Smith, Maine’s opioid response director.

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