Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are a new treatment for COVID-19.

BROOKSVILLE — A search is underway for a site for the injection of monoclonal antibodies, Emergency Management Director James Coleman told the Hernando County Commission on Aug. 24.

“There’s a huge gap between Pasco County’s location and one in the Panhandle,” Coleman said, adding that such a site would also serve Citrus County residents.

As of Aug. 28, the state has set up 21 sites in Florida for the treatment.

The nearest is in Pasco County at the Fasano Center, 11611 Denton Ave., in Hudson. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the Florida Department of Health, monoclonal antibody treatments can prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death in high-risk patients who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19.

Treatment is free and vaccination status does not matter. People 12 and older who are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 are eligible for this treatment.

In clinical trials, monoclonal antibody treatment showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death.

For high-risk patients who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, Regeneron can give you temporary immunity to decrease your odds of catching the infection by over 80%.

Coleman said the current favored site could be the West Library, which would have 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of space, 10 seats for injection, 40 seats for observation, a break area for staff, and the building is ADA-compliant.

With traffic control and security, Coleman said, it could handle 300 to 400 treatments per day.

The contractor handling appointments is CDR Maguire, Coleman said, and the cost would be free. The company also would provide the staff for the site.

Commission chairman John Allocco asked why the West Library is being considered, and suggested locations such as the Spring Hill Library and the VA center on State Road 50 near the Suncoast Highway. Coleman said they have been looking at those sites as well as others such as the enrichment center.

Commissioner Steve Champion suggested having two sites: one in Brooksville and one in the western part of the county.

“Most of the people in Brooksville probably won’t take the vaccine,” he said.

Coleman noted FEMA is paying for the county’s efforts on this, and it can be touted for Citrus County, too.

The process itself takes one to two hours, Coleman said, and people either get an intravenous drip or four injections.

Ambulances busy

Deputy Fire Chief James Billotte reported that his people still are transporting people to hospitals, but sounded a bit more optimistic.

“We’re still busy. It seems to be leveling off, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too high yet,” he said. “We still have an additional ambulance running during peak hours, which has helped immensely. We’re meeting the 911 need easily.”

He said “low acuity” patients are still waiting a while to get into the hospital.

“We’re not stuck waiting in parking lots?” Allocco asked.

“It’s not happening as often,” Billotte said. “We still do have occasionally a one- to two-hour wait,” but patients aren’t waiting as long as before.

County administrator Jeff Rogers said that the COVID testing site at the fairgrounds is busy, running 300 to 400 tests per day.

In other action

• County commissioners were effusive with their praise for Garth C. Coller, who has served Hernando as its county attorney since March 2000 and retired effective Aug. 31.

• Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson told commissioners she was responding to their requests after the commissioners received emails calling for a “forensic audit” of Hernando County’s 2020 election results. She relayed assurances from Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee that the elections were well-run and accurate. Anderson noted that her department has a new website address: https://www.hernandovotes.gov/.