Governor DeSantis promotes monoclonal antibody treatments during Tampa visit

Governor Ron DeSantis made a visit in Tampa on Monday afternoon, along with loved ones and recipients of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19, which he has been touting for the last few weeks.

The press conference was held at the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, located along Kennedy Boulevard. During his speech, DeSantis said there have been 30,000 monoclonal antibody treatments provided across Florida. so far.

Louis Baron tested positive for COVID-19 at a local rehabilitation facility. Family members of the 98-year-old family believe a state COVID strike team with monoclonal antibody treatments saved his life. 

"If you are a facility or a hospital that has these Regeneron shots, do not hesitate," said Alexandra Levine, Baron’s granddaughter. "Please administer them the second your patient tests positive for COVID. The shots do save lives."

Levine appeared with Governor Ron DeSantis at the Hillsborough County Health Department. He was promoting locations around the state which are giving out free monoclonal antibody treatments, the most common called Regeneron. 

DeSantis advised people who test positive to get the treatment as soon as possible. He also said people in high-risk groups, such as people over 65, should get the treatment after being exposed to someone with the virus. 

"You don’t necessarily have to be referred from a physician," said DeSantis. "We’re not saying don’t talk to your physician, that’s a smart thing to do. But you don’t necessarily have to get a piece of paper signed."

MORE: Who should get a COVID-19 antibody test, and when

Studies show the antibody treatments reduce the chance of hospitalization and death by over 70 percent. 

Levine said the treatments saved her grandfather and others in his facility.

"Not only was my grandfather saved that day, but five other people were saved that day," she said.

Dr. Seetha Lakshme or Tampa General Hospital and USF Health said monoclonal antibody treatments are effective and they have an important role in fighting COVID-19. 

"For COVID, nothing is better than prevention," she said. "Vaccines, masks and then second, antibodies."

DeSantis said the treatments have been overlooked. "I absolutely think that had this been promoted better, you would have kept a lot of people out of the hospital and I think you would have saved a lot of lives," he said.

Below are some of the monoclonal antibody treatment centers in our area. All administer the treatment free of charge.

Pinellas County:

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 400 South Old Coachman Road, Clearwater FL 33765 | Mon-Sat. 9-5

Hillsborough County:

King’s Forest Park, 8008 East Chelsea Street, Tampa FL 33610 | Mon-Fri 9-5

Manatee County:

Manatee Memorial Hospital Complex, 206 2nd Street East, Bradenton FL 34208 | 7 days 9-5

Pasco County:

Fasano Center, 11611 Denton Ave., Hudson FL 34667 | 7 days 9-5

Polk County:

Church At The Mall, 1010 East Memorial Blvd., Lakeland FL 33801 | 7 days 9-5