A Phoenix-area man has died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate. The additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication that’s been touted by President Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.

Banner Health said that the couple in their 60s got sick within half an hour of ingesting the additive.

The man couldn’t be resuscitated when he arrived at a hospital, but the woman was able to throw up much of the chemical, Banner said.

“I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'” the woman told NBC.

“Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure,” she said, adding her advice for people would be, “Don’t take anything. Don’t believe anything. Don’t believe anything that the president says and his people … call your doctor.”

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Banner Health is warning everyone to avoid self-medicating.

“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”

At a news conference last week, Trump falsely stated that the Food and Drug Administration had just approved the use of an anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus.

Even after the FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use, Trump overstated the drug’s potential upside in containing the virus.

On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, called Trump’s assertions about hydroxychloroquine “anecdotal” and said there is no evidence that it is effective for COVID-19 patients.

But the next day, Trump was still touting the drug on social media.

Chloroquine is obtained by prescription, and Banner Health is now urging medical providers against prescribing it to people who aren’t hospitalized.

There are reports of people stockpiling the drug, and people with lupus, who need a version of the medication on a regular basis, say they are struggling to fill their long-standing prescriptions.

The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple took and the drug used to treat malaria is the way they are formulated.

The World Health Organization has launched a global clinical trial to study the potential effectiveness of a number of drugs to treat coronavirus, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

But Science magazine reports, “In guidance published on Friday, the US Society of Critical Care Medicine said that ‘there is insufficient evidence to issue a recommendation on the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in critically ill adults with COVID-19.'” It adds that hydroxychloroquine, in particular, can have side effects, in some cases affecting the heart, which could be a serious concern for vulnerable COVID-19 patients.

The man’s death came as the number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona spiked more than 50% in one day, from 152 on Sunday to 235 on Monday, according to the state Health Department.

It marked the third COVID-19 death in Arizona.

 

 

People have tested positive in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, including 139 cases in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, older adults and people with health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s top health official, said the state is preparing for surging demand on hospitals.

She said possibilities include building three field hospitals and re-opening shuttered medical centers, and using a former basketball arena to house patients leaving the hospital but not yet well enough to go home.

Ducey issued an executive order outlining “essential services” that can continue to operate if the state or any local government issues an order for people to stay home.

The essential services include health care, food suppliers, gas stations, banks, hardware stores, laundromats, home repair and infrastructure.

Ducey said he’s preparing for the future but there’s no need currently for a stay-at-home order like those issued in several U.S. cities and states, including California and New York.

“Arizona is not there yet,” Ducey said. “We’re not at the same stage as other states.”

 

Attribution:CBS News
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