Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged the federal government on Monday to send between 30,000 and 40,000 more doses of monoclonal antibody treatments as coronavirus cases climbed to record highs, the Miami Herald reported.
The governor’s request comes amid renewed tensions between state and federal officials over the treatments, which are given to vulnerable patients after exposure to COVID-19.
Last week Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida's surgeon general, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra accusing the Biden administration of "actively preventing" monoclonal antibody treatments from being distributed, the New York Post reported.
HHS recently temporarily halted distribution of antibody treatments made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, explaining that they were most likely not as effective against omicron, although HHS later said the pause would only apply to states in regions where omicron made up at least 80% of coronavirus cases.
DeSantis, speaking at a news conference at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, said that "we have the ability, and we will, immediately turn on additional monoclonal antibody sites as soon as the federal government gives us the supply," the Miami Herald reported.
DeSantis added that if the state gets enough doses from the federal government, his administration would establish additional state-run sites in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — the three counties with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the state, as well as a site in central Florida.
Federal data indicates that Florida’s hospitals still have more than 12,000 doses of Regeneron and Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatments, but some patients have complained in recent days that the state-run sites — which give the treatments for free — do not have enough stock to meet demand.
DeSantis stressed that all testing is done through the federal government, and the state is reliant on it to send tests down, according to the Herald.
He said that despite a rise in coronaivurs cases, Florida still has "ICU COVID utilization [that is] the lowest per capita in the country right now."
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