DeSantis spreads word on monoclonals; faces pushback from big school districts, cruise industry

By: - August 26, 2021 1:50 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference in Collier County. Credit: Florida Channel, screenshot.

Amid a court battle and facing pushback from the state’s largest school districts and Florida’s massive cruise industry, Gov. Ron DeSantis continues spreading the word on monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 patients.

The governor has been traversing the state, talking about the sites cropping up for treatments that can help prevent people from getting very sick and staying out of the hospital. The monoclonal antibodies are copies of antibodies produced by patients whose immune systems have fought off infections.

“If you are infected, particularly if you are in  high risk groups, this is something that is a proven track record,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Immokalee, in Collier County. Overall, the state has opened 21 monoclonal antibody treatment sites.

At issue, the governor said, is that the treatments in the past have been underutilized and “most of these folks didn’t even know about the ability to get a monoclonal antibody (treatment).”

But, “Now that the awareness is higher, people understand this is an option.”

“This is making a difference,” DeSantis added.

The treatments come as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the more contagious Delta variant is spreading, and not all residents have been vaccinated.

The governor acknowledged that COVID-19 is likely to stay — “It’s going to be part of life,” he said.

He answered a few questions at the news conference, including the issue of so-called vaccine passports, which have been banned by Florida law.

However, the cruise industry is pushing back on that issue.

Earlier this week, for example, the Miami Herald reported that Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise lines will require U.S. travelers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before getting on a ship. The new requirement will start in September, departing from Florida.

And in a court case earlier this month, the Herald wrote that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings secured a win in a federal court over requiring passengers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

That would be a blow to the DeSantis administration.

On the school district front, 10 large school districts in Florida have decided to implement mask mandates at their schools — against DeSantis’ mask  policies.

Those districts are: Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Leon, Duval, Orange and Indian River. These districts have an opt out for medical reasons only.

The issue has spawned lawsuits and a court case in Leon County, in the state capital, over the governor’s mask policies.

DeSantis maintains his stance against mask mandates, saying families, not local school boards, should be able to make decisions for their children on wearing masks at schools.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.