Pennsylvania has received a shipment of 1,200 doses of antiviral drug remdesivir, which has emergency use authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with the coronavirus.
State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Wednesday the doses will go to 51 hospitals across the state, which were selected based on the numbers of new coronavirus patients in the past week and how severe the cases are.
“Remdesivir is not a cure,” for COVID-19, Levine said at a press briefing. The drug is given intravenously to the most severely ill coronavirus patients and was shown in a recent clinical trial to reduce recovery time.
Levine added that the supply of remdesivir was being managed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Pennsylvania reported 137 deaths and 707 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, for a statewide total of 58,698 cases and 3,943 deaths from the virus.
Thirteen counties in southwestern Pennsylvania will move from “red” to “yellow” status on Friday, including Allegheny County.
“We feel very comfortable with Allegheny County moving from red to yellow,” Levine said, adding that county health director Dr. Debra Bogen has been doing “an excellent job.”
Tonight, I’m announcing our plan to slowly reopen Pennsylvania.
We will use a measured, scientific approach. We will not just be flipping a switch to go from closed to open.
And, ultimately, #COVID19 will set the timeline.
There will be three phases: red, yellow, and green. pic.twitter.com/NahiYrKovo
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) April 22, 2020
The goal for schools is to reopen in the fall, Levine said in response to a question about whether graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 could still take place if schools practiced social distancing.
“We’re not recommending large gatherings in red and yellow zones given how contagious this virus is,” she said.
State officials have not yet settled on the criteria for moving a county out of the “yellow” caution phase of reopening to the “green” phase, Levine added, saying it was likely some measure of social distancing would still be recommended.
“We’ll still need to be vigilant and careful,” she said. “The virus will not be gone, and we don’t want a resurgence.”
Correspondent Kim Lyons covers Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @SocialKimLy.