Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday asked the Biden administration to send more monoclonal antibody treatments against COVID-19.
At a press conference in southern Broward County, the Republican said that, according to an announcement made on Sunday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the state expects to receive between 30,000 and 40,000 treatments soon.
DeSantis said that as soon as his office has these drugs available, they plan to open new facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Central Florida counties, so they expect to quickly run out of these effective treatments to reduce hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
The governor said they have the capacity to add 5 to 10 more sites depending on demand, but it all depends on the federal government sending the doses they need.
The governor’s request comes after Florida reached a new peak in infections on Friday, 75,962 new cases, but hospitalizations and deaths have not reached the numbers recorded when the delta variant was predominant in the United States during the summer.
Omicron is more contagious, but milder
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida reported 45,838 new cases on Saturday and 39,797 new infections on Sunday.
The total of cases in this state, therefore, adds up to 4,308,534 million infections since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the accounting administered by this federal institution.
For its part, the total number of hospitalizations this Monday due to covid-19 (5,700 patients) represents 10.08% of the number of beds available in Florida, with 75.9% already occupied, a shift compared to recent months, according to figures reported by 259 medical centers in the state to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The state’s Intensive Care Units have 614 people admitted for coronavirus, 10% of the total number of beds.
However, Florida’s surgeon general Joseph Ladapo said today that everything points to the fact that the omicron variant is quite contagious but does not seem to produce high numbers of hospital admissions or deaths, and, in that sense, the latest figures represent considerable decreases compared to the peak reached last August.
At the press conference, Ladapo also said that they are working to “relax” the “mentality” of regular testing for covid-19, something the federal government, he added, has “unfortunately” prioritized across the country in the last two years.
DeSantis on returning to school
In Florida and the rest of the country, thousands of schoolchildren and students have returned to the classroom Monday after the end-of-year holiday break, and, in the case of Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, with mandatory facemasks for teachers, administrative staff, visitors and providers, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
School authorities in both counties pointed out that due to a law signed by DeSantis, masks cannot be imposed on students.
In the also southern Broward County, facemasks are optional for teachers and staff.
The state law does not apply to private schools, and so last Saturday the Archdiocese of Miami announced that it was temporarily reintroducing the facemask mandate for its staff and students over the age of two in its more than 60 schools in the area.
DeSantis reiterated today that Florida schools will remain open.