Three rapid response units opened in South Florida Wednesday afternoon to allow more patients and those exposed to COVID-19 to get access to monoclonal antibody treatment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis opened a site Wednesday at C.B. Smith Park, in Miami, for monoclonal antibody treatment, and he said two more in the area were scheduled to open in West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade.
In the coming weeks, he said at least 15 to 20 more sites will be made available to Florida residents who wish to take the treatment. The sites will be able to see more than 300 patients per day and will be open seven days per week at no cost to the patient.
During the event, DeSantis criticized those who are “pushing a political agenda” through this treatment and the COVID-19 “summer wave.” He did not mention names.
“There is no place for political posturing,” DeSantis said.
Democratic candidate for Governor Nikki Fried has been pushing DeSantis to hold daily COVID-19 briefings which were stopped in early June 2021. Fried has been holding daily briefings to announce COVID-19 data and called on state officials to resume daily data releases. On Wednesday, Fried asked the governor to issue a state of emergency for the COVID-19 outbreak.
DeSantis was asked by reporters at an event in Jacksonville on August 12 why he did not have daily briefings. He said the state releases the data to the CDC and the public can find the information among national data if they so choose. He said that the state health department reports numbers to the CDC every day.
At the same event, the governor said that former President Donald Trump was given the Regeneron monoclonal antibody cocktail in October 2020 and that he had recovered quickly from COVID-19. Following that DeSantis said the federal government made it available to all Americans. However, little attention has been given to the treatment, so many people are not aware that it is available to them—and available at no cost.
DeSantis is making this treatment available to the citizens of Florida and is rolling through the state opening up sites for infected patients to obtain the treatment.
“This is not costing the state of Florida anything,” DeSantis said. “It will not cost the patient anything as well because the federal government bought them [Regeneron monoclonal antibodies treatment] early on so it would be available to all who wanted it.”
Currently, there are two pharmaceutical companies that offer monoclonal antibodies: Regeneron and Eli Lilly.
Florida Department of Emergency Management Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Scheppke said on Wednesday a 98-year-old WWII veteran had gotten a vaccine and soon after had hip surgery only to contract COVID-19.
“His family members pushed for the monoclonal antibody treatment,” he said. “They were having trouble getting this treatment.”
Scheppke said that the family contacted the governor’s office, and the governor sent a team to provide the treatment. Within 24 to 48 hours the veteran’s symptoms had subsided.
“The percentage of people who are being hospitalized—that are COVID positive—are overwhelmingly people that have not been vaccinated, and even more overwhelmingly are not—once infected—got the monoclonal antibody treatment,” DeSantis said.
He encouraged Floridians to get the treatment early as if you are admitted into the hospital, “it is already too late for the antibodies to work.”
“Monoclonal antibodies are an underutilized tool,” he said.