On the eve of his 100th day in office, President Joe Biden laid out an inspiring and attainable vision for America at the Congress. Biden talked about defeating the pandemic. He proposed his plan to make historic investments in infrastructure to create jobs, fight climate change, and make amends for racial injustices. Biden described a path to cut child poverty in half — and create opportunity for all by bolstering unions, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and reducing the burden of student debt.

The nation that Biden believes America can become is one worth fighting for and living in. But without addressing the worsening overdose crisis head on, tens of thousands of people won’t live to see Biden’s project come to fruition — thousands of whom will be Black Philadelphians, if current trends continue.

» READ MORE: President Biden to the nation and world: ‘America is rising anew’

A staggering 90,000 lives were lost to a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2020 — the most ever recorded in one year. According to preliminary data, more than 950 people died of an overdose in Philadelphia between January and October of 2020, a hundred more deaths than the same period in the previous year. There is also a shift in who is dying. For the first time, Black victims are the majority and not white ones.

There is a way out, but Philadelphia needs Biden’s help.

Unfortunately, so far, it doesn’t seem that overdose deaths or drug policy are among the top priorities for his administration. The crisis was mentioned just once in Biden’s hour-long address, when he said his administration is planning “critical investments to address the opioid crisis.”

Drug policy is largely federal policy. That means that the ability of cities like Philadelphia to experiment in their overdose prevention efforts is limited. That is evident in Philadelphia’s recently announced Opioid Response Action Plan.

The plan has a lot of good in it: targeting services, launching a fentanyl awareness campaign, ramping up police assisted divergence for drug buyers, increasing the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder, and providing further support to community health organizations in Black and Latino neighborhoods. The city also opened a police substation in Kensington, to both assist in diversion to services and address gun violence.

» READ MORE: Attacks against homeless people in Kensington are on the rise: ‘Somebody is going to get killed’

Nothing in the plan is fundamentally different than what Philadelphia has been doing for the last four years. This is where the Biden administration needs to come in.

It was Sen. Joe Biden in the 1980s who pushed legislation to open the White House Office of National Drug Control and Policy. Biden coined the term drug czar and criticized previous presidents for not elevating the position to the cabinet.

More than 100 days into his administration, Biden has yet to nominate a drug czar and the position is not a part of his cabinet. The office is running with an acting director, but the absence of a nomination signals a lack of priority

To address the overdose crisis in Philadelphia and beyond, America needs an overhauled federal drug policy. Laws need to change to allow physicians to prescribe methadone instead of sending patients to get daily doses in federally certified clinics. There needs to be robust investment in a treatment infrastructure for people who are using stimulants, which are showing up more and more in the toxicology screens of overdose victims, and not just opioids.

One of the most immediate things that Biden can do to save lives in Philadelphia is protect Safehouse, the nonprofit working to open a supervised injection site.

A few days before Biden’s inauguration, a circuit court reversed a district judge’s decision and ruled that a supervised injection site is akin to a “crack house” under federal law. Safehouse is appealing. Biden, who authored the crack house statute in the 1980s, can instruct the Justice Department to issue guidance that prohibits U.S. attorneys from prosecuting providers of harm reduction services — just as in 2013 Obama’s Department of Justice did to address dispensaries in states that legalized marijuana.

» READ MORE: The Biden administration lifts the barriers to prescribing buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction

The Biden administration is already an improvement from the Trump administration when it comes to the overdose crisis — especially on harm reduction. By investing in syringe services programs and fentanyl testing strips, Biden’s administration is setting an important tone. The administration also made it easier for providers to prescribe the opioid use disorder medication buprenorphine. All of this is immensely important. The need is just much greater.