DOWNTOWN — Illinois received its first shipment of remdesivir, the antiviral drug that has shown success in helping people recover from coronavirus, officials announced Monday.
Word of the Saturday shipment came as Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announced an additional 53 people died from the virus. That brought the state’s total to 3,459 people.
Another 1,266 people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total in the state to 79,007, although the vast majority have already recovered.
There are now 4,319 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,248 are in the ICU and 730 are on ventilators, Ezike said.
Officials are hoping remdesivir will increase the recovery numbers and shorten hospital stays. The initial shipment was of 140 cases, which Ezike said is enough to treat about 700 people.
The drug was sent to 14 hospitals around the state, prioritizing the ones with the most critically ill patients.
Hope for an effective treatment increased following a successful test that began Feb. 21.
Hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung problems who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo, according to a preliminary data analysis reported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The early results indicated patients who received remdesivir had a 31 percent faster recovery time than those who received a placebo, according to the report.
“Specifically, the median time to recovery was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared with 15 days for those who received placebo,” the report said.
The results also showed a mortality rate of 8 percent for the group getting the drug and a 11.6 percent mortality rate for those in the placebo group.
Remdesivir was first developed as a general antiviral and tested in the fight against Ebola, but it was not effective.
Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.
Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.
The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The most common symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chills and shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and/or smell
People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, according to Harvard Medical School.
If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.
How To Protect Yourself
Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:
- The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
- Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.
What To Do If You Think You’re Sick
Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.
If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.
Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.
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