GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Vice President Mike Pence says the drug President Trump has been pitching for COVID-19 sufferers will be made available for thousands of patients in Detroit as part of a formal study.

Hydrochloroquine is used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but has not been approved as a treatment for COVID-19.  While small preliminary studies have shown some promise, health experts say more studies are needed to know whether it’s safe and effective to use.

“Gov. Whitmer and I spoke about a new program in Detroit that will make hydrochloroquine available for 3,000 patients through the Henry Ford Hospital. They’ll be tracking in a formal study the results of that, but at the president’s urging, I assured her that we’re more than prepared to make hydrochloroquine broadly available to pharmacies and doctor’s offices across the Detroit area as they deem appropriate,” Pence said during Sunday’s update from the White House coronavirus task force.

Metro Detroit continues to be a hot spot for coronavirus. Michigan’s highest numbers for both confirmed cases and deaths continue to come from southeast Michigan, in and around Detroit.

Sunday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,493 more confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide, bringing the total count to 15,718 Michiganders who have tested positive. MDHHS announced 77 more deaths from COVID-19 as of Sunday morning, bringing the state’s total to 617 deaths.

Wayne County, including the city of Detroit, has 7,518 confirmed cases and 293 deaths; Oakland County has 3,035 cases and 163 deaths and Macomb County 2,003 cases and 83 deaths. Washtenaw County has recorded 518 cases and eight deaths. Genesee County has 504 cases and 18 deaths.