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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Is Pushing an Expensive Experimental COVID-19 Treatment While Still Banning Mask & Vaccine Mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference

Florida is launching a new attack on COVID-19 in the form of antibody treatment “strike teams.” Health officials have authorized emergency use of an experimental monoclonal antibody drug called Regeneron to be administered by a new rapid response unit.

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In theory (and perhaps in practice), making Regeneron available to those infected with COVID-19 is a great thing. This is the treatment that saved Donald Trump when he was apparently so much closer to death than any of us knew at the time, and if that absolute canker on our collective psyche had access to it (and if it works), then the rest of us should too. And it sounds like the rapid response unit will be targeting vulnerable populations at long-term care facilities to start, with DeSantis also encouraging anyone with elevated risk factors to get the antibody treatment at the first signs of COVID-19.

But the move still leaves a lot of people wondering why DeSantis is so focused on this experimental and reportedly very expensive treatment while aggressively shunning preventative measures like the (free) vaccine and (nearly free) masks.

About 49% of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated, which is right on track with the national rate. And DeSantis isn’t anti-vaccine. He is fully vaxxed and has urged his constituents to do the same. But he is staunchly against mandates, banning schools and businesses from requiring mask or vaccine mandates from students, staff, or customers. And so Florida has become one of the country’s worst COVID-19 hotspots.

“In the past week, Florida has had more Covid cases than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined. And Florida and Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40% of new hospitalizations across the country,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a White House briefing Thursday.

“The Delta variant has ravaged the state, crowding many hospitals. In Brevard County officials are urging residents to use 911 sparingly as COVID-19 cases overflow local hospitals and ambulance services,” writes CBS News.

DeSantis’s sudden investment in the treatment has led many to wonder if he has a personal stake of some sort in the drug—especially as even more politicians are revealing that they have been profiting off of the pandemic in previously undisclosed ways. For now, though, that’s just speculation as people look for an answer as to why a governor would ban obvious and widely available protective measures in favor of the expensive and experimental non-preventative option.

(via CBS News, image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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