New signs are posted at the makeshift antibody clinic at Jacksonville’s downtown library, days after a photo showing sick people lying on the floor there went viral.
“Please do not sit or lay on the floor,” say the signs that greet people showing up for a monoclonal antibody treatment designed to fight early stage COVID-19 infections. “If you require immediate medical attention, please alert a staff member.”
The city has also provided more wheelchairs, seating and additional ways to notify someone if visitors need help while waiting in line to receive antibody treatments from the temporary clinic.
Dean told News4Jax her 16-year-old son took her to the library after she left Baptist hospital, where she said an emergency room physician recommended that she go get the antibody treatment.
At first, she said, she was so dizzy she could barely stay on her feet. So she sat down, then laid down.
“I don’t know how I made it that far in the day,” said Dean, adding that she’s feeling better now.
The Fleming Island resident said she had been in an out of emergency rooms for the past two weeks while she dealt with symptoms of both COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Doctors say the Regeneron antibody cocktail is meant for patients who are recently infected. That’s why they try to avoid administering it to patients who have been sick for more than 10 days.
“The reality is, by that point the virus has replicated so much that your body’s natural immune system is kicking in and working to fight it,” said Dr. Chirag Patel with UF Health Jacksonville. “We don’t really see that there’s going to be a lot of added benefit of getting a monoclonal antibody fusion or injections.”
While Florida has received shipments with hundreds of thousands of doses of the drug, Dr. Chirag noted there isn’t an endless supply. He said not everyone needs the monoclonal antibody treatment.
“It is best to get this as early as possible to stop it when there’s minimal virus burden,” he said.
Still, even with guidance from medical experts, it appears there’s confusion at the clinic about who can or should go and get the antibody therapy.
A woman who asked to remain anonymous told News4Jax she questions protocol at the site. She said when she went in for the treatment, she wasn’t asked for any proof of a positive test result.
“It just seemed very haphazard,” the woman said. ” … And there was a waiting room full of people. I saw one woman without a mask and room full of COVID-positive people. This site also caters to people who are getting a COVID test, so some of those people…might be exposed while they’re there.”
News4Jax asked staff inside the clinic about checking patients’ COVID-19 status.
Staffers said most of the people who show up have visible symptoms, so they don’t often check, but they have a system in place where they can see if someone has already tested positive.
During a news conference Friday announcing the opening of another clinic elsewhere in the state, one of 10 located throughout Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed the treatment’s efficacy.
The governor noted that data has shown there’s a 70-percent reduction in hospital admissions for people who receive the treatment early after testing positive for COVID-19.