DeSantis’ closure of the treatment centers is the latest rift between Florida and the Biden administration over Covid. Over the summer and early fall, DeSantis and Biden fought over the Republican governor’s refusal to allow mask mandates in schools — a conflict that led the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office to open an investigation into whether Florida was violating the rights of students with disabilities.
In September, DeSantis attacked the Biden administration for distributing monoclonal treatments to states across the nation while Florida and a handful of southern states at the time were taking up the bulk of antibody treatment orders.
Monoclonal antibody treatments have been proven to help people recover from the infection faster, but experts believe their effectiveness depends on the strain of the virus. DeSantis has also heavily pushed the treatments.
Covid-19 has killed more than 63,000 people in Florida since the first infections were reported nearly two years ago. It was ravaged by the Delta variant over the summer leading to record-breaking hospitalizations but has generally fared better under the less-deadly but more transmissible Omicron variant.
DeSantis and state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have argued that all of the monoclonals made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are at least somewhat effective.
“The Federal Government has failed to adequately provide the United States with adequate outpatient treatment options for COVID-19,” Ladapo wrote in the same statement sent by the governor’s office. “Now, they are scrambling to cover up a failure to deliver on a promise to ‘shut down the virus.’”
The state Department of Health, which Ladapo oversees as the agency’s secretary, announced late Monday that it was closing state-run monoclonal antibody treatment administration sites “until further notice.”
A federal database shows that Florida is still slated to receive 34,216 doses of monoclonal treatments from the Health and Human Services agency this week. This total includes 3,216 doses of sotrovimab, which is proven to be effective against treating the Omicron variant.