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Lee Heath: Seek COVID treatment early

Monoclonal antibodies need to be administered quickly

By CJ HADDAD - | Oct 5, 2021

Lee Health officials on Monday reminded individuals seeking monoclonal antibody treatment that it must be administered in the early days of a positive result.

“Monoclonal antibodies (MAB) are an effective treatment for COVID-19 if administered in the early days of infection,” said Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are finding that some people are waiting too long to get treated with it.”

He said it is too late to receive this specific treatment if already hospitalized.

“MAB treatment helps prevent hospitalizations and can lessen the severity of your COVID-19 infection,” Antonucci continued. “Patients can receive this treatment at Lee Health with a referral from their doctor or at the state-run location in Bonita Springs without a referral. To receive the full benefits, I recommend seeking treatment as early as possible after a positive COVID test.”

Florida seniors and COVID-19

A report on Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that COVID-19 vaccinations might have helped prevent approximately 17,000 new COVID-19 infections and 2,400 deaths among Florida seniors during the first five months of 2021. The study, which was conducted by researchers with HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, also found that nationally, vaccinations were linked to a reduction of roughly 265,000 COVID-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries between January and May 2021.

“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a release. “The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized getting vaccines quickly to pharmacies, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and even provided increased reimbursement rates for at-home COVID-19 vaccinations, so that seniors and others can easily get vaccinated.”

An HHS release also stated that more than 352,000 lives were lost during the first nine months of the pandemic, and that prior to vaccine availability, nearly 80% of deaths were among those 65 and older who were also Medicare eligible.

The study showed that from January to May of 2021 — when vaccination grew from 1 percent to 47 percent among adults 18 to 64 and from one percent to 80 percent among seniors — there was an 11 to 12% decrease in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries for every 10% increase in county vaccination rates.

To find the ASPE report, visit: https://aspe.hhs.gov/reports/covid-19-vaccination-rates-outcomes.

By the numbers

As of Tuesday morning, Lee Health had 133 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 17 new COVID-19 admission and 18 COVID-19 discharges since Monday. Lee Health also reported 40 new COVID-19 admissions and 37 COVID-19 discharges over the weekend. Of Tuesday’s total, four are under the age of 18 and three are in the ICU.

Since the start of the pandemic, Lee Health has reported 1,172 patient deaths inside of their hospitals to COVID-19 related complications, and no reported deaths on Monday.

Census as of Tuesday morning was at 84% of staffed operational bed capacity. Staffed operational capacity reflects the number of beds for which the hospital has adequate staffing, not the total number of beds within Lee Health hospitals. Overall bed capacity fluctuates hour to hour as the system discharges patients throughout the day who are ready to go home.

As of Tuesday, 65% of ventilators and 11% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Tuesday, there were 22 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 32 in the intensive care unit.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral disease. For most individuals, symptoms are mild. For a minority, the disease becomes a type of viral pneumonia with severe complications. Especially at risk are those who are older, those with underlying health conditions and the immune-compromised.

With the number of COVID- 19 cases again climbing due, in part, to the latest mutation of the virus, the CDC is recommending that even vaccinated individuals “maximize protection from the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others” by wearing a mask indoors in public in areas “of substantial or high transmission.”

The CDC also recommends masks for those at high risk of serious illness from COVID, those with compromised immune systems, those who are older, and those with underlying medical conditions.

Vaccination is highly urged.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj