PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in Hudson, promoting the state’s efforts to make Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 more accessible to state residents.
“The sooner you get a monoclonal antibody treatment, the more effective it will be at keeping you out of the hospital and saving your life,” DeSantis said.
To that effect, the governor announced a new monoclonal antibody site opening in Pasco County.
It was the second Regeneron treatment promotional event DeSantis held Thursday, the first was in Ormond Beach, Fla. In Pasco County, DeSantis also confirmed that a new antibody treatment site would open in Hillsborough County.
“Today we’re here and we’re happy to be able to announce that we’ll be establishing a site for monoclonal antibody treatment in Pasco County. This is a site that will be open from 9 to 5 for seven days a week right here at the Fasano Center in Hudson,” DeSantis said. “And this is something that’s really really significant as we’ve had the vaccines roll out, that was obviously the main center of attraction. At the same time, these monoclonal antibodies were approved by the FDA for emergency use as well.”
DeSantis said that the Regeneron treatment is free to the patient.
The governor said it’s important because people are saying this is a treatment that costs thousands of dollars, but is free of charge and already paid for and provided by the federal government to the state, and from the state to the residents.
DeSantis said he wants to do more to let people know the treatment is available and expand the footprint of it in Florida.
He said the opening of multiple treatment sites is aimed at both providing wider access to early COVID-19 treatment, as well as increasing awareness of the treatment for those who are infected or have been exposed to other Floridians who have contracted the virus.
“You don’t want people to be deterred from doing this if it’s something that can help them,” DeSantis said.
Still, DeSantis and the state government at large remain resolute in blocking mask restrictions and mandates in counties facing surges of COVID-19 infections. Two county school districts, Alachua and Broward, already face potential sanctions from the state, which could include withholding salaries, removing board members and superintendents from office, or reducing funding for the school districts.
The school districts for Hillsborough and Nassau counties have instituted their own mandates, defying the position and policies of the state government and recently passed laws from the 2021 legislative session, such as the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
The governor said that the state will be able to administer 300 or more treatments per day at each of the sites, and that those who are at high risk for COVID complications would be prioritized, such as the elderly and immunocompromised.
DeSantis said the monoclonal treatment is preferred to be used in addition to vaccination, rather than instead of vaccination, but he touted the use of Regeneron for early treatment of COVID infection or exposure.
“We’re offering the Regeneron because it’s been proven effective against delta, whereas the Eli Lilly has not,” DeSantis said. “The Regeneron is also the only monoclonal that has been approved for use as a prophylaxis.”
The governor said the Regeneron treatment is “very helpful” for the strike teams administering treatment in nursing homes. He expressed some concerns about the faster spread of delta, though he said a lot of the reported cases have been on the milder side.
“I believe if we can turn this in, from a disease, and the vaccines have helped do this and then this, to turn it into something with a flu-level risk with you know vaccine and monoclonals, that’s basically what you end up doing,” DeSantis said. “You know there’s been a lot of people admitted over the last month who probably wouldn’t have been admitted if they’d gotten the early treatment.”
DeSantis said he wants to promote access and to make sure there’s more visibility for the Regeneron treatment and state programs using it, a continued pitch as he has traveled across Florida opening treatment sites.