Coronavirus Daily Briefing: Minnesota receives small amount of drug approved for emergency use in fighting COVID-19

Minnesota health officials say the state has received and is distributing a small amount of a drug that is testing well in the battle against COVID-19.

On May 1, the Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use of remdesivir, which appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster. A government-sponsored study showed remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31%, or about four days on average, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) State Epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield said the state distributed the drug to health care facilities with severe cases. As studies on remdesivir and COVID-19 continue, the state is expected to get another small allotment of the drug Tuesday.

MDH said it aims to use the 1,200 viles of the drug to maximize the number of lives that can be saved by factoring in risk and possible benefits for each patient. However, the drug is being used on five- and 10-day courses for patients, with each 10-day course using 11 viles and each five-day course using six viles.

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Below are some other takeaways from the daily update:

  • The state’s doubling rate for COVID-19 that officials have been tracking is up to nine days. MDH had said in past weeks that the rate was at about eight days.
  • About 4,500 COVID-19 tests are being done each day in Minnesota. Gov. Tim Walz had previously stated his goal was to test 5,000 people per day.
  • An updated COVID-19 model for Minnesota will be released this week. It’s been about a month since the state last released a model showing COVID-19’s spread in Minnesota and related projections based on the guidelines being followed.
  • While elective operations and dental offices were allowed to reopen Monday, MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann noted it will be a slow reopening for many health care facilities depending on staffing, personal protective equipment supplies, etc., and those with urgent needs will likely be prioritized.
  • MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm urged parents to make sure they’re keeping their children up to date with all vaccinations and important check-ups.
  • Walz tweeted, and Malcolm reiterated, that any Minnesotan experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, as the state has enough testing capacity now.
  • Many food processing facilities are still seeing cases, although some are stabilizing while others are growing, Malcolm said. Ehresmann added all facilities affected are having all employees tested, and the facilities are being urged to do additional screening on top of social distancing in their facilities.

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Elective medical, dental procedures approved to begin Monday