Photo Shows Jacksonville Regeneron Clinic Overburdened With COVID Patients
A photo circulating on social media shows COVID-19 patients lying on the floor of the antibody treatment clinic at the Jacksonville Public Library Downtown.
The photo shows a woman lying face-down on the library floor. She appears to be in distress. In the background, another person is also flat on the floor, being tended to by a loved one.
The photo was posted on Reddit around midday on Wednesday by user Suzieb2220, who wrote, “My husband (vaccinated, but positive) has been waiting 2+ hours for monoclonal therapy and he says he has never seen people so sick. Moaning, crying, unable to move.”
Reached Thursday afternoon, Louie Lopez, who took the photo, said the imagine was more dramatic in person. "The picture doesn't convey the sounds that I was hearing. People were in pain." Lopez said the nurses were friendly and were doing their best, and the patients were all friendly, despite the two-hour waits they were suffering, often while ill. Some patients shared the limited chairs that were available.
Lopez said that he's beginning to feel better, and hasn't had a migraine for the first time in eight days.
"It seems really odd that would have a bunch of really sick people in a library waiting for an injection when then need medical treatment," said Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation. "This is approved or people who have mild to moderate symptoms. If they have symptoms where their oxygen is low or their blood pressure is low, they need to be seen in the hospital."
A city of Jacksonville spokesperson confirmed the photo is of the Jacksonville clinic, and told WJCT News wheelchairs are offered at the site, but at the time the photo was taken, they were all filled by other patients.
“In order to support the State of Florida in their efforts to provide this important treatment (that they’ve contracted out to CDR Maguire), [Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department] and [The City of Jacksonville] are providing triple the number of wheelchairs, additional seating for those waiting in line and signage that directs patients to alert someone if they need any type of assistance,” said spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton.
“This treatment is meant to keep people OUT of the hospital and is designed for those early on in their COVID-19 diagnosis or for those who believe they have been exposed to COVID,” Kimbleton said. “Individuals with severe symptoms should contact a medical professional for guidance on the proper treatment for their situation.”
Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment, can help reduce the symptoms of COVID-19 if it’s administered shortly after exposure to the virus, but it’s less helpful once symptoms progress. It can also limit the body’s ability to fight future COVID infection and make vaccines less effective, according to its manufacturer.
Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Jacksonville last Thursday to promote the clinic, saying the Regeneron “strike teams” deployed across the state were “the best thing we can do” to reduce hospitalizations. “So I want everybody to know that this is an important way to be able to protect yourself in the event that you are infected,” he said.
The clinic was originally sited in a Florida Department of Emergency Management trailer on Bay Street, and was moved to the library Conference Center on August 16.
A city of Jacksonville employee told WJCT News the process of setting up the library site felt rushed from the beginning. The employee, who was not authorized to speak to the media, asked to remain anonymous.
“The fact that there seemed to have been no forward thought or planning that went into this, it was just, ‘The governor said so, so we’re going to do it,’ kind of a thing. It raised a lot of alarms,” the employee said.
The Jacksonville clinic has given out 372 doses since it opened August 12, according to the city.
At last count, Baptist Health Jacksonville reported 535 COVID patients, including 125 in the ICU and 15 children. WJCT News Partner News4Jax reports Duval County is averaging 123 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, meaning 1 out of every 813 Jaxsons is hospitalized with the viral infection.
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.
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