NEW PORT RICHEY — Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference this afternoon in New Port Richey to tout the monoclonal antibody treatments that have so far successfully treated patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
DeSantis added that to date there are 25 monoclonal treatment facilities offering free services. More than 70,000 Floridians have received monoclonal treatment, and the state has seen daily admissions for COVID decline by nearly 40%, as well as a large decline in the overall COVID-positive hospital census including 15 consecutive days of declining census. Today’s report was nearly the biggest decline all year and decline in emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses.
The message DeSantis wanted to share with the public is that COVID is a treatable illness. For the population in the high-risk category, the monoclonal antibody treatment makes a difference and has made a difference, he said.
“Early treatment saves lives,” DeSantis said. “We’ve seen good success, the key is to get it early.”
DeSantis added that he even though the antibody treatment received the OK for emergency use in December 2020, a majority of people didn’t know this treatment option existed. Also due to lack of awareness of its benefits, people have admitted they didn’t get the treatment despite it being an option.
Overall, DeSantis said he is pleased to see sharp declines with the use of the antibody treatment. It’s “all about keeping people out of the hospital,” he said. To date, 13 million adults who are 50 years and older are fully vaccinated in Florida.
Monoclonal antibody sites are also available in Pinellas County, Clearwater, and Hillsborough County. To make an appointment, visit www.patientportalfl.com.
“Your body naturally will produce antibodies to fight off pathogens, most people who get COVID are able to fight it off short of needing to go to a hospital, fortunately,” DeSantis said. “But not everybody’s able to produce the antibodies necessary, so this is just an antibody cocktail that gets in your system and starts fighting on your behalf, and that’s something that’s really, really good.”
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office K9 Sgt. and SWAT Team Leader Ben Birge testified of his own monoclonal antibody treatment after experiencing COVID symptoms on a Sunday. He tested positive on a Tuesday morning with a fever, body aches, and difficulty moving. Birge said he secured an appointment for Thursday, was in and out, and by Friday morning felt great. He resumed work the following Tuesday.
United States Rep. Gus Bilirakis said he was very appreciative to receive the antibody treatment after testing positive for COVID. He testified that “we will save lives with this” and from his own experience, felt great 24 hours after the treatment. Being in a high-risk category with diabetes and heart disease, Bilirakis said he knew it was important to seek help.