Patient Treatment Guidelines

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Management of Patients with Suspected SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

Last update: August 31, 2020


The backbone of the treatment strategy for COVID-19 is good quality supportive care as in any viral pneumonia. Limited therapies have shown benefit in the treatment of COVID-19. This document will be updated continually as new evidence emerges and based on the availability of treatment regimens. Currently, there is no evidence supporting outpatient management of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, including the use of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin or corticosteroids.

Patient Admitted on Nasal Cannula

Disposition: Consider admission to intensive care unit if older than 65 years of age with a new oxygen requirement, D-dimer > 1,000 ng/L, or RR > 22 breaths/min


Conservative fluid management strategy


Evaluate for enrollment in clinical trials


AntimicrobialsConsider empiric antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia while COVID-19 results are pending


Initiate dexamethasone for patients requiring O2; do not continue on discharge


If needed, use metered dose inhalers and avoid nebulized therapies.


Evaluate hematologic abnormalities and treat as appropriate. See Anticoagulation Dosing Recommendations for COVID-19 Patients.

O2 supplement

Target SpO2 >90%. If oxygen requirement increases to 5 L, call primary team and ICU for evaluation.

Consider high-flow nasal cannula at 15 – 30 LPM with surgical mask over patient’s face.

Patient Admitted to Intensive Care Unit


Conservative fluid management strategy such as daily net neutral fluid balance in patients without evidence of shock


Evaluate for enrollment in clinical trials


AntimicrobialsConsider empiric antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia while COVID-19 results are pending


CorticosteroidsInitiate dexamethasone for patients requiring O2 or mechanical ventilation


Evaluate hematologic abnormalities and treat as appropriate. See Anticoagulation Dosing Recommendations for COVID-19 Patients.

O2/Mechanical Ventilation

Target SpO2 >92%. Consider HFNC at 15-30LPM with surgical mask over patients face.

Once intubated, maintain plateau pressures < 30cm H20. Low Vt and high PEEP strategies are controversial.

If PaO2/FiO2 < 150, consider early proning and use of paralytics.

If PaO2/FiO2 remains < 150 after proning and paralysis, consider cautious use of inhaled vasodilators and ECMO consult.

Clinical trials

Information about ongoing or potential clinical trials at UMMC can be found in our Clinical Trials database.

Additional comments

  • Early intubation for hypoxemic respiratory failure is no longer required.

Agents not recommended for COVID-19 treatment

The agents listed below have no evidence supporting the use for treatment of COVID-19 but can be used for alternative diagnoses or in the context of clinical trials. * = drugs with low supply (recent shortage or currently on allocation) – contact Pharmacy with questions.

  • HIV protease inhibitors (more on lopinavir/ritonavir below): darunavir, atazanavir
  • H2-receptor blockers: famotidine*, cimetidine
  • Supplements: zinc*, ascorbic acid*, vitamin D
  • Miscellaneous: hydroxychloroquine, IVIG*, interferon, azithromycin, colchicine, cetirizine

Inpatient Treatment Algorithm (PDF)

Treatment information

Approved Therapies

DrugDose and DurationComments

Remdesivir (Veklury)

  • Direct acting antiviral
  • FDA approved emergency use authorization
  • Supply limited


  • 200 mg IV x 1 followed by 100 mg IV q24h


  • <40 kg: 5 mg/kg IV load followed by 2.5 mg/kg IV q24h
  • ≥40kg: Refer to adult dosing


  • 5 days or until no longer hypoxic

Available through emergency use authorization

Additional assessment

  • Requires O2 sat < 95 or oxygen supplementation
  • Requires baseline eGFR and ALT
  • Contraindicated with ALT > 5x UNL
A/E: Increased ALT/AST.  Caution for use in AKI


  • Initiate in patients requiring mechanical ventilation or oxygen
  • Do not start in patients not requiring oxygen


Preferred: Dexamethasone 6-10 mg IV/PO* daily

Duration: 10 days or until no longer hypoxic 

Decreased mortality shown in the RECOVERY trial

Not recommended for the treatment of non-hospitalized patients at this time

Additional assessment

  • Monitor blood sugar
  • Elevations in WBC can occur with corticosteroid use

Not Recommended


  • No intrinsic activity for SARS-COV-2
  • No benefit demonstrated for COVID-19


  • 500 mg IV/PO on day 1, followed by 250 mg IV/PO daily x 4 days + HCQ

Pediatric - >3 months

  • 10 mg/kg IV/PO on day 1 (max 500 mg), followed by 5 mg/kg IV/PO daily x 4 days (max 250 mg)

Additional assessment

  • Assess for serious drug-drug interactions (DDI)
  • Assess baseline QTc and Mg2+ with follow-up QTc in 24-48 hours
  • QTc >500

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

No benefit in multiple RCT for COVID-19


400 mg PO BID x2 doses followed by 200 mg PO BID x4 days


6.5 mg/kg (max: 400 mg/dose) q12h PO x2 doses followed by 3.5 mg/kg (max: 200 mg/dose) PO q12h x 4 days

 Additional assessment

  • Assess QTc prior to initiation
  • Assess for serious drug-drug interactions (DDI)


  • QTc >500 (see QTc monitoring table on page 2)

A/E: retinopathy, rash, nausea, glucose fluctuations

Lopinavir-Ritonavir (Kaletra®)

  • No benefit in RCT for COVID-19


  • 400mg-100mg PO BID


  • 14 days to 6 months:
    • 16 mg/kg PO BID (lopinavir component) 
  • 6 months to 18 years:
    • 15-25 kg: 200 mg-50 mg PO BID
    • 26-35 kg: 300 mg-75 mg PO BID
    • >35 kg: 400 mg-100 mg PO BID

Additional assessment

  • Check HIV antigen/antibody prior to first dose
  • Assess for serious DDI (CYP3A4 substrate/inhibitor)

A/E: hepatotoxicity, pancreatitis, QTc prolongation, diarrhea 

Combination with ribavirin has been suggested based on synergistic action with lopinavir/ritonavir. Additional studies are needed before recommending this combination.  

Tocilizumab (Actemra)

  • Adjunctive agent that targets IL-6
  • No benefit in RCT (COVACTA) for COVID-19


  • 400 mg IV x1 dose

Pediatric – 2 years of age and older

  • <30 kg: 12 mg/g IV x1 dose (max 400 mg)
  • ≥30kg: 8 mg/kg IV x1 dose (max 400 mg)

Duration: 1 dose

Additional assessment

  • Consider checking inflammatory markers (CRP, ferritin, LDH, fibrinogen, D-dimer)
A/E: Increased ALT/AST, infusion related reactions, hematologic dyscrasias, increased LDL

Information on drug interactions and administration for patients who cannot swallow can be found at:


These documents and content on this website are guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because new information is released rapidly, these documents can be updated or changed at any time. These documents are in no way to be considered as a standard of care and the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information in these documents is provided with no guarantees, accuracy, or timeliness. All content in these documents and website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute the providing of medical advice.