In this retrospective study we assessed the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in patients with critical or severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We enrolled 181 patients admitted to Huoshenshan Hospital (Wuhan, China) with confirmed COVID-19 between January 2020 and February 2020. Ninety-two patients were treated with tocilizumab, and 89 patients were treated conventionally. We analyzed the clinical manifestations, changes in CT scan images, and laboratory tests before and after tocilizumab treatment, and compared these results with the conventionally treated group. A significant reduction in the level of C-reactive protein was observed 1 week after tocilizumab administration. In some cases this meant the end of the IL-6-related cytokine storm. In addition, tocilizumab relieved fever, cough, and shortness of breath with no reported adverse drug reactions. These findings suggest tocilizumab improves clinical outcomes and is effective for treatment of patients with critical or severe COVID-19. However, future clinical trials are needed to better understand the impact of tocilizumab interference with IL-6 and provide a therapeutic strategy for treatment of COVID-19.