South Dakota to test coronavirus treatment in first statewide clinical trial

South Dakota has recorded 730 coronavirus cases and six deaths

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South Dakota will be the first state to test hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the novel coronavirus in a statewide clinical trial, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday.

"From day one, I’ve said we’re going to let the science, facts, and data drive our decision-making in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement. "Throughout last week, I communicated with White House officials to let them know that South Dakota’s medical community was ready to step up and lead the way on research efforts."

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"I made direct requests to President Trump and Vice President Pence to supply us with enough hydroxychloroquine so that it could be made available for every hospitalized person the state may have as well as for those healthcare workers on the frontlines and those in the most vulnerable populations," Noem said.

Sanford Health, the largest rural health care provider in the U.S., Avera Health and Monument Health will be part of the trial, according to the governor's office. The state has recorded 730 coronavirus cases and six deaths.

In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, left, updates media on the COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference at Monument Health in Rapid City, S.D. (Jeff Easton/Rapid City Journal via AP, File)

Administering hydroxychloroquine, often in tandem with azithromycin, is something researchers hope will help patients since the FDA hasn't approved any treatments, preventative or otherwise.

The National Institutes of Health said Thursday it had begun a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine in patients with coronavirus.

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"Many U.S. hospitals are currently using hydroxychloroquine as first-line therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 despite extremely limited clinical data supporting its effectiveness,” said Dr. Wesley Self, who is leading the trial. "Thus, data on hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 are urgently needed to inform clinical practice."

The drug, used to treat malaria, can cause health issues including cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, dermatological reactions and hypoglycemia.

President Trump has repeatedly floated hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the virus.

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