Pennsylvania receives first shipment of drug used to treat COVID-19 patients

KYW Staff
May 13, 2020 - 5:28 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Pennsylvania has received its first shipment of remdesivir the drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients from the federal government. 

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the state received 1,200 doses of the drug from the federal government Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, it had been distributed to 51 hospitals statewide.

“The hospitals that received the first shipments were selected based upon their numbers of COVID-19 patients over a recent seven-day period and the severity of the illness of those patients,” she said. 

Levine said the Department of Health and Human Services has assured the state it will receive the medication on a weekly basis over the next number of weeks.

Remdesivir has been shown in a recent clinical trial to shorten the recovery time of some patients with the coronavirus.

The FDA approved emergency authorization of the drug two weeks ago.

She cautioned that remdesivir is not a cure for COVID-19 it's only for severely ill patients who are in the hospital.

With 707 additional positive cases, the state now has a total of 58,698 positive coronavirus cases and 3,943 fatalities. 

Berks County

Berks County will not defy Gov. Wolf’s order that businesses inside the red zones of the state remain closed. 

There were indications in statements from the Berks County Commissioners in recent days that they might defy the Wolf administration and go along with some other counties threatening to reopen.

During a Wednesday briefing, however, the commissioners announced they will continue to comply with the governor’s directives.

But, Chairman Christian Leinbach said the county will aggressively plead its case.

“We are not giving up on reopening Berks County. We are calling on the governor of Pennsylvania to do the right thing and to allow businesses that have the ability and are willing to implement effective health and safety standards to allow them to open,” he said. 

Leinbach warned that several small businesses in the community already have decided to close for good or are on the verge of going out of business.

Leinbach said Berks is working on a detailed plan with the health care community and businesses to safely and responsibly reopen the county.

CDC to warn doctors of dangerous inflammatory syndrome in children

The CDC is preparing to release an alert warning doctors to be on the lookout for a dangerous inflammatory syndrome in children that could be linked to COVID-19.

The illness is marked by a persistent fever, inflammation, poor function in one or more organs, and other symptoms similar to shock. It was first reported in New York, where three children have died.

More states began reporting diagnoses of the syndrome this week, but Levine said so far, Pennsylvania has been spared. 

“To date, we have not received any reports, but we are actually specifically reaching out to our six children’s hospitals to find out more information if they have any of those cases,” she said.

Other than a fever and inflammation, other symptoms to look out for include aspects of the rare Kawasaki disease: a rash, pink eye, red and swollen hands and cracked lips.

Health officials say not all patients tested positive for coronavirus, but many have or had antibodies.

Cocktails to-go

A bill now headed to Gov. Tom Wolf would allow some Pennsylvania restaurants and hotels to sell cocktails to-go during the pandemic emergency. 

A spokeswoman for the governor said only that he will make a decision after reviewing the bill, which would allow restaurant and hotel licensees who have lost more than 25% of their average monthly sales to sell mixed drinks to go in quantities of up to 64 ounces for the remainder of the pandemic emergency.

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KYW Newsradio's Tony Romeo, Mark Abrams and Jim Melwert contributed to this report.