May 16th, 2020
The Georgia Department of Public Health –
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) today is distributing an initial allotment of the drug remdesivir received from the federal government. Georgia received 30 cases, with 40 vials of the drug per case, enough to treat about 110 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s treatment.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.
The distribution plan for remdesivir in Georgia was developed by DPH leadership, including district health directors and emergency preparedness staff, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for its use. It is based on the number of patients on ventilators, the most severely ill, and clinical best practices.
Georgia hospitals receiving remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs. These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of remdesivir and the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.
The following hospitals are receiving remdesivir; Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Augusta University Medical Center.
“DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.”
Georgia has received a second, much larger allotment of remdesivir. DPH is surveying hospitals statewide over the weekend to determine need. This second allotment will be distributed next week.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement (EUA). The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.
Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.
ALSO: Free COVID-19 testing is available to all Georgians who request it, whether they have symptoms or not.
In Floyd County, free COVID-19 testing is available at the West Rome Baptist Church, 914 Shorter Ave NW, Rome.
For safety and as a courtesy to others, please call one of the following numbers from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 pm Saturday to schedule a test time:
Walk-ups, however, will not be turned away. You do not have to be a Floyd County resident to be tested.
You may also email anytime [email protected] and ask to be referred. Please give your name and phone number. You will be contacted by public health to schedule your testing.
“We encourage everyone to get tested for COVID-19 infection to determine who is currently ill and contagious,” says Dr. Gary Voccio, health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District. “This helps us identify people who might transmit the virus. We can then isolate them to prevent transmission, ensure they’re cared for, identify and interview their close contacts, and quarantine and monitor these individuals as necessary to slow the spread of the virus.”
The Northwest Health District is now conducting free COVID-19 testing at health departments or other sites in Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk, and Walker counties.
For the locations of all Georgia COVID-19 testing sites, please visit https://dph.georgia.gov/locations/covid-19-testing-site. For contact information for these sites, go to https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-testingdirect-patient-lines.
For more information about COVID-19 visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter, and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.