By Jessica Mathews/

State medical officials discussed a new antiviral medication being tested as a specific treatment for COVID-19 during a press conference Monday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun provided another update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19. Khaldun said the rate of increase in new cases is continuing to slow, meaning the rate of new infections has dropped 25% in the past seven days statewide. However, Khaldun noted they are still seeing many cases every day and each new infection has the potential to spread to many other people. She said the state continues to ramp up testing and as testing volume increases in communities, the number of positive cases continues to go down so the state is on the right trajectory.

Khaldun said they’re still learning more about COVID-19 every day and must stay vigilant as they seek to contain it. She noted there is no approved treatment for COVID-19 but the FDA has granted an emergency use authorization of the experimental medication Remdesivir. Khaldun said Michigan was one of the state’s to receive a small amount of the medication this past weekend to distribute across the state. While don’t know if the medication definitely works or the full safety profile, she says they do want any potential treatments to be accessible to patients in Michigan as they battle the disease. On Saturday, Khaldun said Michigan received 40 cases of the medication and successfully shipped it out to a subset of hospitals across the state that have seen the largest burden of deaths from the disease and the sickest patients. Unfortunately, she says they did not receive enough from the federal government to be able to send the medication to every hospital in the state and hope they will soon receive more. Khaldun added however that it is one potential therapy they’re glad to make available to some patients in Michigan.

Khaldun said no one is immune to the disease; there is no vaccine and no scientifically proven treatment. She said it can infect people of all ages and scientists and doctors are still learning about both the short and long term effects. Khaldun stressed that aggressive testing and contact tracing are the only way to get ahead of the disease - adding the state and local health departments are continuing contact tracing and hiring more staff. She concluded by saying it’s very serious and asked that people continue adhering to social distancing measures, wear masks and don’t gather in groups – adding the state is making progress but people continue to die so people should not become complacent.