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Arizona will use experimental drug to help COVID-19 patients

Governor Ducey briefing

PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Doug Ducey says Arizona will be getting 361 cases of the experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir, which appears to help patients with COVID-19 recover faster.

The drug received emergency approval in May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The shipment comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Arizona grapples with a surge of coronavirus cases around the state.

Health officials reported 2,537 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 86 additional deaths on Sunday, bringing Arizona’s totals to 122,467 COVID-19 cases and 2,237 fatalities.

It’s the sixth time this month that at least 40 new deaths have been reported around Arizona, but the first time in eight days with fewer than 3,000 newly confirmed cases.

However, the number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

“We’ll continue working with our local and federal partners to get resources where they’re needed, and we need everyone to continue doing their part,” Ducey said Saturday on Twitter.

Last month, the Arizona Department of Health Services released guidelines on how Remdesivir would be allocated with the drug initially earmarked for high priority patients.

“The shipment will bolster state supplies with added capacity to treat tens of thousands of additional patients, if needed,” Ducey tweeted.

Arizona became one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots in May after Ducey relaxed stay-home orders and other restrictions.

The state reached 1,000 coronavirus deaths on June 5 and 50,000 coronavirus cases on June 21.

Cases topped 122,000 on Saturday, three days after reaching the 112,000 mark and six days after reaching 100,000.

Ducey ordered the closure of gyms, bars, water parks and tubing business for 30 days on June 29.

On Thursday, the governor capped restaurants at half of their capacity but declined to shut them down entirely.

“I joined mayors from across Arizona to ask the governor to put in place significant expansion in safety precautions,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation. “We do not have a statewide requirement for facial coverings in Arizona and we need one.”

“We would love to see additional protections, including moving restaurants completely to takeout. We would also like to have some of the risky or personal care situations like nail salons. We think that’s just not necessary right now while you’re seeing such high levels of the virus,” Gallego added.

Ducey has already announced Arizona will increase testing with a focus on low-income areas of Phoenix as many people report it’s hard or impossible to find tests.

The state also is paying for a private lab to greatly increase its daily capacity. Most people have been waiting up to a week or more for test results.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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The Associated Press

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Dominique Newland

Dominique joined KYMA in June 2019 as a Sunrise anchor. She was born in New Jersey but raised in Carmel, Indiana.

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