New monoclonal site arrives in Gilchrist County

The Florida Department of Health opened a new monoclonal antibody site at the Suwannee River Fairgrounds in Gilchrist County, according to a Levy County Emergency Management announcement Friday.

It will be open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and serve Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties. Patients can show up without an appointment, and medical personnel recommend receiving the treatment as soon as possible after contracting the coronavirus.

Since August, Florida has opened more than 20 monoclonal sites around the state, providing free treatment for residents.

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High Springs received a monoclonal site in late August that averaged 130 patients per day in the first week.

The opening of the monoclonal sites coincided with a surge in COVID-19 in Florida, and Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed to the monoclonal treatment as a key factor in lowering hospitalization rates and flattening the curve.

Paul Myers, the Alachua County Health Department administrator, said the data set is too small to prove direct correlation, but the first week of the High Springs monoclonal site had brought some good changes.

“There is a clear decrease in the hospitalizations at the same time that this treatment stood up, so I know that our local hospitals are pleased with that,” Myers said in a phone interview with Mainstreet Daily News. “And I hope that this continues because it is a very effective treatment.

The Florida Department of Health reports the treatment reduced the risk for hospitalization and death by 70 percent in clinical trials.

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services took over the distribution of monoclonal antibodies at the request of President Joe Biden, a move DeSantis called dangerous for Florida.

Hospitalizations in Alachua County have dropped by 36 percent in the week ending on Oct. 6.

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