Doctor plans to continue new COVID-19 drug at Texas City nursing home

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- About 30 people at a nursing home in Texas City are being tested with hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, to determine whether it will be a successful treatment, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday.

On Friday, the Galveston County Health Department announced 83 people, including patients and employees, tested positive for COVID-19 at The Resort at Texas City. The next day, one of the patients died.

READ MORE: Galveston Co. counts 83 COVID-19 cases at Texas City assisted living home

Abbott made the announcement during a briefing on Monday afternoon.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 by President Trump among others, but it remains controversial as some experts believe it is unproven and may not be effective.

"They are, for the most part, in their second day of this testing regimen that will last several more days," said Abbott. "We look forward to updating you as the week progresses about how this drug is aiding, or not, these patients."

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FULL INTERVIEW: Nursing home doctor describes new drug he says is improving patients.



WATCH: One-on-one with Gov. Greg Abbott on state's coronavirus response efforts
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In the video above, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sat down with ABC13's Tom Abrahams at the capitol about the statewide efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.



Because of the staggering amount of cases at the nursing home, Dr. Philip Keiser, the county's local health authority, issued a Public Health Order enforcing restrictions on long-term care facilities in Galveston County.

READ ALSO: Son of woman who died of COVID-19 at Texas City senior home mourns in quarantine

Newly released data shows 140 Texans have died due to coronavirus and a total of 7,276 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being treated. As of Monday, more than 85,000 people have already been tested for COVID-19 while 1,153 are currently hospitalized. So far, 157 of 254 counties in the state are now reporting cases.

Abbott also offered an update on stimulus checks and said direct deposit transactions should begin next week, citing a briefing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

On Sunday, Abbott temporarily waived certain regulations to get more health care workers out on the job.

"The state of Texas is bolstering our response to COVID-19 by expanding our health care workforce and removing barriers that might prevent professionals from serving their fellow Texans," said Abbott. "Our front line health care professionals play a vital role in our ongoing response to protect public health, and we are committed to supporting them and ensuring they have the ability to perform their important duties."

READ MORE: Gov. Abbott waives more regulations to help healthcare workers join workforce

The city of Houston continues to lead the state with more than 1,300 positive coronavirus cases as testing ramps up. Dallas comes in second with 1,112 cases while Austin takes third with 484 cases.

Monday morning, a mobile COVID-19 testing site for seniors and first responders opened in Jacinto City. This the latest testing site to open in the Houston area.

READ MORE: COVID-19 testing site opens for 2 specific groups today






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