TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The state of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a lofty push this month to increase access to monoclonal antibody treatments for people battling COVID-19.
DeSantis announced in Jacksonville on Aug. 12 that the state would establish multiple sites across Florida to offer treatments for people infected with the coronavirus.
In less than three weeks, the state has set up 21 monoclonal sites.
The treatments are for high-risk individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to the virus.
All of this has been amid the large spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Florida that has put intensive care units under severe strain.
As of Wednesday, Sept. 1, state health officials said over 40,000 people have been treated at the 21 sites in Florida.
The governor said 65,000 Floridians have taken advantage of monoclonal antibody treatments since officials have started opening up the 20-some treatment sites across the state during a press conference in Lakeland on Sept. 7.
Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, said monoclonal antibodies help to save lives and alleviate the strain on hospitals.
"These missions aim to proactively treat individuals newly diagnosed with COVID-19 to treat the virus early and avoid progression into severe illness," Khoury said.
Most of the 21 monoclonal sites are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for free treatments regardless of vaccination status.
Clinical trials have shown that monoclonal antibody treatments demonstrated a 70 percent reduction in hospitalization and death.
However, health officials continue to push for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and advise that these treatments are not a substitute for getting the shot.
The latest figures show that Florida continues to lead the U.S. in COVID-19 hospitalizations.