Florida State Rep. Angie Nixon is not impressed with the latest pandemic-related effort from Gov. Ron DeSantis. In a brief Twitter thread, the Jacksonville-based legislator called out the governor’s team for allegedly ignoring requests around vaccine access.
DeSantis was in Jacksonville Thursday to launch a new effort to treat COVID-19 cases. But instead of launching a robust public health plan to combat the latest pandemic surge, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing the drug Regeneron.
Nixon, clearly fed up with the governor’s antics, called his announcement a farce. She sees the latest push as happening at the expense of preventative measures.
“I can’t fully represent my district if I don’t advocate for their needs,” Nixon told NewsOne. “More testing sites, more innovative ways to get people to trust vaccinations. All of that.”
Data updated Friday indicates only 43% of the Jacksonville metro area is vaccinated. Vaccination rates for the Black community continue to lag across the state.
It’s estimated statewide that Black communities are still not receiving the vaccine at an equitable rate. The Orlando Sentinel cited a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation that found less than 30% of Black Floridians were vaccinated.
Hard hit by the Delta variant, Florida hospitals struggle to manage the new influx of cases. The increasing availability of the treatment could be a game-changer for those needing treatment for COVID-19.
Healthline reported in March that Regeneron was estimated to cut the duration of COVID-19 symptoms by four days. Early data suggested it could reduce hospitalizations by 70%.
To the untrained eye, this could seem like a replacement for masking up and vaccination. It’s not.
The drug is administered intravenously and requires medical staff monitoring during the process. It’s unclear if the state is shouldering any of the costs to individual patients.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And with the new pandemic surge, a combination of mask mandates, vaccinations, and treatment regimens could go a long way.
“The reality is unvaccinated people are at risk,” Nunez-Smith bluntly stated. “Taking a gamble with COVID could land you, of course, in the hospital, or worse. But it also can leave you with a month, or even longer of debilitating symptoms, that make it hard for people to work or function and just not feeling well.”
Given existing issues with vaccine and health equity and the disproportionate rate of deaths among Black Floridians, the question remains whether the new treatment sites would have similar issues. Early reports showed that the DeSantis administration favored wealthy white communities in vaccine administration.
Also, the vaccine is free and available to everyone. It’s too early to tell how available the new treatment will be. DeSantis announced that mobile teams could be deployed to nursing homes, but it doesn’t seem the new treatment will be as widely available as the vaccine.
Miami’s CBS affiliate reported over 15,000 doses were administered to 162 sites in Florida.
Dr. Bernard Ashby, a cardiologist and the Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, told the Orlando Sentinel that the situation is dire for Black communities across the state.
Ashby recently did an interview highlighting the issues with the governor’s anti-mask stance. Wearing a mask is a preventative measure that, along with making testing and vaccines more accessible, could help manage cases as the surge continues.
“What Gov. DeSantis doesn’t understand, or probably does understand just ignores, is that masks use is a public health measure,” said Ashby. “So it’s not just protecting you; it’s protecting others. Mask as a public health tool is used to prevent the spread of disease.”