Illinois receives first shipment of COVID-19 treatment drug remdesivir

MOBILE APP USERS: Watch Fox 32 News on the go by clicking here

CHICAGO -- Illinois health officials on Monday announced the state has received its first shipment of remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who is the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said 141 cases of remdesivir have been shipped to 14 hospitals across the state.

The company that makes the antiviral drug, California-based Gilead Sciences, has said it is donating its entire current stockpile to help in the U.S. pandemic response.

Remdesivir was cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration last week. Early research was conducted on monkeys.

Monkeys infected with COVID-19 that were treated with the drug were shown to be in “significantly better health” than those who were untreated, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The health organization shared the findings in a news release on April 17, noting that the amount of virus in the lungs of the monkeys who had received remdesivir was “significantly lower” than another group of monkeys who had received no treatment.

Monkeys in the treated group also had less damage caused to their lungs by COVID-19 than the non-treated group.

In addition, the Associated Press previously reported on a different study -- published by the New England Journal of Medicine -- where human patients had been treated with remdesivir. More than half of a group of severely ill coronavirus patients improved after receiving the antiviral drug.

Also on Monday, Illinois health officials announced 1,266 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the state’s case total to 79,007.

Illinois officials also said the peak period of 50 to 150 COVID-19 deaths per day could extend into June.

It was also announced Monday that Gov. J.B. Pritzker and all senior administration officials would begin working from home for an undetermined period of time after an aide tested positive for COVID-19.

Last week, Gov. Pritkzer announced a framework for reopening the state as politicians, businesses and citizens continue to press for an end to the stay-at-home order in Illinois.

Pritzker says the five-phased plan, named Restore Illinois, is guided by public health metrics designed for reopening businesses, schools, and recreational activities in each phase.

RELATED: 'Restore Illinois': Pritzker reveals 5-phase plan to reopen state amid COVID-19 pandemic

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.