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DeSantis announces Pasco, Hillsborough monoclonal antibody treatment centers

The treatment, if administered early, could help reduce symptoms from the coronavirus.
Madison DeSantis, left, stands by her father, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he speaks during a news conference at Pasco County’s Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter in Thursday in Hudson.
Madison DeSantis, left, stands by her father, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he speaks during a news conference at Pasco County’s Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter in Thursday in Hudson. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 19
Updated Aug. 19

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s push to expand access to monoclonal antibody treatments reached Pasco and Hillsborough counties on Thursday.

The state will set up monoclonal antibody treatment sites in Hudson and Tampa, the governor announced at a news conference in Hudson. Like other treatment sites that have been set up across the state, the two new centers will be able to support about 300 patients per day, DeSantis’s office said in a news release. No prescription is required, and the treatments are free.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands with his daughter, Madison, left, while Florida Senator Wilton Simpson speaks during a news conference Thursday in Hudson.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands with his daughter, Madison, left, while Florida Senator Wilton Simpson speaks during a news conference Thursday in Hudson. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Tampa’s site will be at Kings Forest Park, 8008 East Chelsea St. The site in Hudson will be at the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave. Both will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Floridians can also get monoclonal antibody treatments from hospitals. The treatments, which are meant to mitigate severe outcomes from the coronavirus, are administered either via an infusion or a shot.

DeSantis said he hoped the state’s efforts to vaccinate Floridians and spread the word about the best treatments could help turn COVID-19 into a “flu-level risk.”

Related: Ron DeSantis, hospital CEOs tout COVID monoclonal antibody treatments

The governor’s effort comes amid the worst coronavirus surge the state has seen. State hospitals have been filling with coronavirus patients for weeks, and the state reported another 23,335 cases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 17.

Florida Department of Emergency Management Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Scheppke speaks during a news conference Thursday in Hudson.
Florida Department of Emergency Management Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Scheppke speaks during a news conference Thursday in Hudson. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use for two purposes. Patients who have tested positive for the disease may use it to help decrease their chances of severe illness. Additionally, people “who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19″ may use the drugs as a precaution after being exposed to COVID-19 but before they’ve tested positive.

The drugs are not recommended for people who are already very sick from COVID-19. But at one Jacksonville site, some patients showed up quite ill and in distress, according to First Coast News.

Related: Tampa General hopes COVID-19 antibody treatment can ease buden on ICU as cases soar

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and a Democrat, hinted in a Thursday news release before DeSantis’ news conference about the Tampa monoclonal antibody site.

”For those who unfortunately test positive for COVID-19, monoclonal antibody therapy may help reduce symptoms when treated early, so we’re pleased to make the Florida State Fairgrounds available for those needing this treatment,” Fried said in the release, noting the fairgrounds are under the agriculture commissioner’s purview by law.

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DeSantis’ office later confirmed that it was opening the Kings Forest Park treatment center, which is at the south end of the fairgrounds.

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