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Jacksonville seeks new Regeneron clinic site as library has been closed nearly 3 months

Jacksonville's state-run Regeneron clinic at the Main Library
Katherine Hobbs / WJCT
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Jacksonville's state-run Regeneron clinic at the Main Library

The Jacksonville Main Public Library remains closed to the public despite a reduction in COVID-19 transmission to moderate levels and a sharp drop-off in patients seeking treatment in its basement.

The library has been closed since Aug. 17, after the city allowed the state to run a Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment clinic there.

To date, the clinic has given out 10,675 doses. But between Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 the clinic averaged less than 46 doses daily, down from a peak of 323 daily doses in September.

Some residents and library employees questioned why the public library was chosen as the location for the clinic, and if it's still necessary for the entire building to be shut down to library-goers now that demand for Regeneron has significantly declined.

"We continue to be in communication with the state about the monoclonal antibody site at the library," Brian Hughes, chief administrative officer for Mayor Lenny Curry's office told a City Council committee this week. "We thank the state, because it's 10,000 people who were kept out of our hospital clinic."

"The numbers there going down is a good sign but it continues to interfere with the ability to have the public main library back online, which we seek to do as soon as we possibly can," Hughes said.

Jacksonville's monoclonal antibody clinic started at a temporary mobile site just a couple days after a conversation between Mayor Curry and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The clinic was moved to the library a short time thereafter with no public input and little planning, surprising the library's board and workers who were relocated to other branches on short notice. They were told the closure would be temporary.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday the DeSantis administration was requesting $244 million from the federal government as reimbursement for its monoclonal antibody program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That request also includes the cost of 3,000 doses of sotrovimab, another antibody treatment, that the state acquired in September after the Biden administration announced it was limiting Regeneron shipments to multiple states that had used up a majority of the federal supply, including Florida.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.