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CDC: Federal money can be used for fentanyl test strips

The test strips can help people tell whether fentanyl is present in a substance before they use it, potentially saving lives.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that federal grant money can be used to purchase fentanyl test strips on Wednesday, potentially saving lives.

Now, Nashville officials are working to figure out how to get them to people as quickly as possible. 

Romello Marchman was just 22-years-old when he died. It happened on Memorial Day in Nashville. The coroner found high levels of fentanyl in his system.

"Those kids, they don't think it will happen to them. They think they're invincible and they think they can take just one pill, but one pill can kill," said Tanja Jacobs, Marchman's mom. 

Romello is far from alone. Officials said that 80% of the overdose deaths in Nashville involve fentanyl.

"It's very depressing and it's very concerning. I think everybody is doing everything we can at this point to try and keep people alive," said Trevor Henderson, the director of the Metro Opioid and Overdose Response Program.

It's why the CDC announced federal funding can be used to purchase fentanyl test strips.

The strips allow people to take a small sample of whatever substance they are using and learn if fentanyl is present in it or not. All they need to do is mix the substance into some water and dip the test strip into it.

The test strips can cost a dollar, and soon groups hope to be handing them out to whoever wants them.

"So if you think about it in those terms, $1 to potentially save a life, that's pretty good," said Henderson. 

Studies show the strips don't stop people from doing drugs. However, officials said that the strips can help people reduce the amount of recreational drugs they take.

"It's about trying to keep people alive and trying to get them the help they need," said Henderson. 

People like Marchman, who lost his life because fentanyl was present in a substance.

"That's what makes me get up in the morning is to try to keep somebody else from having to go through this," said Jacobs. 

Marchman's mother started a foundation in her son's memory.

To get fentanyl test strips or to donate to the foundation, click here.

This story was originally reported by WSMV in Nashville.