FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Monday morning at the Broward Health Medical Center Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, at which time he announced the state would be opening new monoclonal antibody treatment sites across the state if they receive more doses from the federal government, and he also called on the federal government to allow states to directly purchase the doses themselves.
The governor acknowledged that the majority of COVID-19 cases in South Florida appear to be related to the omicron variant, which he said monoclonal antibody treatments are possibly less effective against, however he said the delta variant also continues to be an ongoing issue amid the pandemic and the antibody treatments continue to be much needed.
DeSantis said if there is even a 50% chance that the treatments work against omicron cases, then we should prioritize getting those treatments to our hospitals.
The governor was joined by the state surgeon general and the Broward County mayor at Monday’s the news conference.
He said he was troubled when the government pulled back on the supply on antibody treatments after a study showed they may be less effective in treating those who have contracted the omicron variant.
The federal government reversed course on Sunday, however, leading the governor to ask for an additional 40,000 treatment doses to be sent to Florida to primarily treat the elderly and those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
He said the state legislature also has set aside close to $1 billion to set up new antibody sites if the additional doses are approved.
“Now that we’ve got the pathway cleared with Regeneron, now that we got the pathway cleared with the Bamlanivimab … we have the ability to do, and we will, immediately turn on additional sites as soon as the federal government gives us the supply,” DeSantis said. “We will do an additional site here in Broward County, we will do an additional site in Miami-Dade, we’ll do an additional site in Palm Beach County, we’ll do an additional site in Central Florida.”
DeSantis said about $1 billion has been allocated for treatment sites.
Broward County Mayor Michael Udine also spoke at Monday’s news conference, saying the county has already selected a location to set up the new monoclonal antibody treatment site if the federal government sends over the additional doses.
The governor’s appearance comes as he has been largely absent from public view in the last couple of weeks amid the record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases.
The governor did speak at a public event Friday night at the Miami Baptist Church in West Kendall, but he did not address the surge in covid cases.
Before the holidays, DeSantis signed legislation that made it difficult for public schools to adjust safety measures to the higher positivity rate.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Thursday that adults would be required to wear face masks when schools reopen after the break.
Masks are also now required for all vendors and visitors at Broward County public schools.