TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While COVID-19 cases remain high, some facilities in Florida are reporting a slight drop in hospitalizations. Gov. Ron DeSantis says that’s due to monoclonal antibody treatments that are now widely available across the state.
The recent fourth wave of coronavirus in Florida led to shortages of hospital beds and staff. But there’s a sliver of good news this week.
Federal data analyzed by the Florida Hospital Association shows there’s been a nearly 10% drop in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past seven days.
Gov. DeSantis says it’s likely the impact of the state’s 21 monoclonal antibody treatment sites.
“We’re over 30,000 treatments in the state of Florida,” he said.
At news conferences across Florida on Monday, DeSantis shared stories of families and individuals who received the treatment and recovered.
One of the stories was of Toma Dean, the subject of a viral photo who was seen doubled over in pain at a state treatment site. Two weeks later, alongside Gov. DeSantis in Jacksonville, the mother of two encouraged others to consider the treatment.
“I was heading for an ICU bed… there’s not a doubt in my mind,” Toma said. “I received Regeneron and within about 24 to 36 hours, I knew I was going to make it.“
Critics have said the governor pushed the treatment more vocally than the vaccine. It’s a claim the governor continues to reject.
“You’re less likely to have a severe symptomatic illness if you’re vaccinated,” Gov. DeSantis said in Jacksonville Monday. “If you’re infected, you’re much less likely to… go to the state of hospitalization or death, if you get a monoclonal antibody treatment.”
Gov. DeSantis has come under fire for banning mask mandates in schools too. Last week, a judge rejected Gov. DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates. For now, school districts can require students to wear masks.
During his Jacksonville news conference, the governor said the ruling would be appealed.
“It is a low risk, it remains a low risk for students,” he said.
According to Gov. DeSantis, the data shows while the delta variant is more contagious, it’s not more dangerous for children. With some in the medical community split on this, 8 On your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked the governor what data he’s using to make these decisions.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recently acknowledged… that there’s no evidence that they’ve seen that delta is more impactful on kids than the prior variants,” Gov. DeSantis said.
The governor was referring to recent comments made by the vice chair of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“CDC actually in their briefing last week said… COVID-positive patients who are under 18 in hospitals is no different in terms of the proportion, than it’s been throughout the entire pandemic,” said DeSantis.
In a White House briefing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said the hospitalization rates that we’re seeing with children right now are similar to prior surges.
“But you know as these new things come… parents understandably have questions but we’ve not seen any major changes in terms of that.”
The governor said there’s been an increase in the number of reported COVID infections in school-aged kids due to a recent increase in testing, but said most cases are mild.
Meanwhile, in the school mask lawsuit trial, a witness for the plaintiffs claimed the delta variant does lead to more severe illness for all ages.
The CDC and AAP both recommend universal indoor masking by all students age two and older.