While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 12

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INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Indiana now has access to the only drug approved by the FDA to treat the coronavirus. Remdesivir is a drug that has proven to shorten the length of time a coronavirus patient may need to be hospitalized. 

The state now has 1,000 doses of remdesivir, but the Indiana State Department of Health has not yet said where the anti-viral medicine will go and how it will be distributed.

Ascension St. Vincent has been doing a clinical trial on the drug for eight weeks.

Another shipment of the drug is expected from FEMA eventually, but supply will be limited.

“There’s going to be some specific criteria from patients who actually want to receive this drug, we will not simply be launching it and easily assuming that you are going to have availability to remdesivir or any other treatment strategy,” Dr. Mark Bochan, the chairman of infectious disease at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, said.

The medicine is not proven to cure or make it less likely to die from coronavirus, but recent studies show it helps shorten hospital stays.

Researchers say there are other COVID-19 treatments available, so if you do not have access to remdesivir, you have options. 

The unemployment rate is near a record high, showing numbers we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.

Over 20 million jobs were lost between March and mid-April—the highest monthly increase in history.

That brings the official unemployment rate to 14.7%, but economists say that number has likely grown higher, and even after government restrictions are lifted, it could take months for the economy to recover.

“We should expect this economic challenge that’s before us to be much worse than anything we’ve seen in the post-World War 2 period,” Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University, said. “I think we’re looking at the edge of a depression, not a recession.”

Hicks says it could take nearly 18 months for unemployment rates to fall back into the single digits depending on how quickly a vaccine becomes available.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center released an update Monday on COVID-19-positive first responders in Indianapolis.

IMPD: In total, 37 officers have tested positive for COVID-19. 29 have subsequently recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional, and returned to work.

IFD: In total, 30 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19. 27 have subsequently recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional, and returned to work.

IEMS: In total, 8 providers have tested positive for COVID-19. 7 have subsequently recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional, and returned to work.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers across Indianapolis, IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters, and IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

With deaths mounting at the nation’s nursing homes, the White House strongly recommended to governors Monday that all residents and staff at such facilities be tested for the coronavirus in the next two weeks.

More than 27,000 residents and staff have died from outbreaks of the virus at the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to an AP tally based on state health departments and media reports. That is about a third of all 80,000 deaths in the U.S. that have been attributed to the virus.

The American Health Care Association, the main nursing home trade group, welcomed the new testing recommendation but said the federal government needed to do more to make that possible, including allocating billions of additional dollars to the effort.

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