People pictured lying on the floor of Jacksonville antibody treatment site

The Regeneron site at the library opened this week to people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A picture taken inside the downtown Jacksonville Regeneron antibody site at the library shows patients lying on the floor while waiting for treatment.

Louis Lopez took the picture Wednesday. He told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant he waited in line for about two hours before getting in.

“What the picture doesn’t convey is these people were in pain,” Lopez said. “They were miserable. They were really suffering.”

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The City of Jacksonville confirmed the picture was taken inside the center. A representative said the volume of patients more than doubled Wednesday.

“In order to support the State of Florida in their efforts to provide this important treatment, JFRD and COJ are providing triple the number of wheelchairs, additional seating for those waiting in line and signage that directs patients to alert someone if they need any type of assistance. We are encouraged by the increase in activity at the location because the data shows monoclonal antibody treatment is key to alleviating stress on our area hospitals. We want to thank Governor DeSantis and his team for quickly providing this treatment option to the citizens of Jacksonville.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office added that people who are experiencing severe symptoms should go to the hospital, not the monoclonal treatment sites.

“Early treatment saves lives and helps many patients avoid hospitalization. But the infusion sites are not meant to be, nor are they promoted as, a replacement for hospitals for people who are suffering from severe COVID symptoms,” Christina Pushaw, the Governor’s press secretary, said in an email.

“I tip my hat off to [the staff],” Lopez said. “They were doing the best they could with a new situation.”

The site was previously at Bay Street and treated 132 people in five days. The center moved to the downtown library and served 97 doses on Tuesday and 143 doses on Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Health told Action News Jax the center was not overrun and can treat up to 320 patients daily. The state said it’s providing extra resources to the city if needed, including ambulances on standby.

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The state-supported site is run by CDR Maguire, which is an engineering firm that specializes in emergency management. Action News Jax reached out for a comment about the picture, but we have not yet heard back.

While patients can walk up, a DOH representative encouraged booking an appointment online. Treatment can take up to an hour and staff observes patients for an hour after.

“Wasn’t bad at all. Just had to wait a little while. But not bad at all,” Shelly Burgess said.

The site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find more information here.

Location:

Jacksonville Main Public Library Conference Center

Please enter through the Main Street Entrance

304 North Main Street

Jacksonville, FL 32202

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Parking:

Two hours of free parking will be available at the following locations

-Library Parking Garage

Only First Floor and First Floor Ramp

-33 West Duval Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Please use the garage ramps to exit the garage onto Duval Street

-You may also use any Parking Meter parking spot marked Patient Parking located on:

Duval Street between Ocean Street and Laura Street

Monroe Street between Laura Street and Main Street

HOW DOES THE THERAPY WORK?

The FDA said the monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic an individual’s immune system’s ability to fight off the virus. The antibodies are directed against the spike protein of the coronavirus and are designed to block the virus’s attachment and entry into human cells.

If the treatment is applied early and properly, DeSantis said it has the ability to reduce the likelihood of hospitalizations and death by 70%. Health officials said the treatment can be distributed by IV and other faster methods.