LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A pharmaceutical company has given Arkansas 100,000 tablets of an anti-malarial drug that President Donald Trump is heavily pitching as a treatment for the coronavirus.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on Wednesday announced the donation of hydroxychloroquine from Amneal. The pharmaceutical company has announced similar donations to other states, including Texas.
Hydroxychloroquine has long been used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Very small preliminary studies have suggested it might help coronavirus patients, and doctors can prescribe it off-label for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But health experts have said more studies are needed to determine whether it’s safe and effective to use.
COVID-19 IN ARKANSAS
Arkansas health officials on Wednesday said the number of coronavirus cases in the state has reached at least 1,071.
The Health Department reported the increase in cases, up from at least 997 on Tuesday night. Arkansas has had 18 deaths.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a 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, including pneumonia.
UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS RISING
Arkansas officials expect the number of Arkansans filing unemployment claims during the outbreak to hit 150,000 by the end of the week.
Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said more than 110,000 people have filed for unemployment and his department has been reassigning staffers to handle a flood of calls. The state has waived the requirement to file for unemployment in person.
The state will have to build a new system to process claims by independent contractors, freelancers and self-employed workers newly eligible for unemployment benefits under the federal coronavirus aid. Preston said building that system will take three weeks, but that back pay of benefits will be available once the system is set up.
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