HARRIS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, dozens of nursing home residents near Houston who tested positive for the coronavirus are receiving treatment with an anti-malaria drug not yet officially approved for fighting COVID-19.

Abbott’s announcement that hydroxychloroquine was being used on patients at the nursing home in Texas City appeared to be the first time the governor has mentioned the drug as a treatment since the coronavirus crisis began.

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Galveston County health officials announced last week that more than 80 residents and staff members at The Resort at Texas City tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Abbott said many of the patients given hydroxychloroquine were in their second day of treatment.

President Donald Trump has promoted the drug as he grasps for ways to sound hopeful in the face of a mounting death toll and with the worst weeks yet to come for the U.S. But medical officials warn that it’s dangerous to be hawking unproven remedies, and even Trump’s own experts have cautioned against it.

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Some limited studies have been conducted on the use of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin in concert to treat COVID-19, but they have not included critical control groups that scientists use to validate the conclusions.

It was not immediately clear who authorized the drug use for the Texas nursing home patients. The state acquired 10,000 bottles of hydroxychloroquine exclusively for hospital use during the pandemic and has distributed about 500 bottles so far, said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. But he said none of the state’s supply was given to the residents of the nursing home.

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