U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday he had received reports from several Florida hospitals in the previous 24 hours about a potential shortage of a key drug that has been used to help patients battling COVID-19.
“I am in contact with federal officials in hopes of addressing this matter immediately,” Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
Rubio’s remarks came as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters at a Miami news conference that a supply of remdesivir had been sent to several hospitals across the state. DeSantis did not specify where the supply came from, though New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he was sending a shipment to Florida.
Appearing with Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya, DeSantis said that a delivery of remdesivir had been “dropped” to Florida hospitals over the weekend.
“That was a request because even though they were due a shipment at the end of this week or next week, they wanted to have enough because they were using it. The physicians like it, and with the uptick of people in the hospitals, (it) was needed,” DeSantis said Monday. “We are obviously going to work to make sure that supply is replenished as much as we can going forward.”
Cuomo announced Friday that New York was going to send enough remdesivir to the state to treat 280 coronavirus-infected patients until a federal shipment arrived.
"When New York was climbing the COVID mountain with no end in sight and resources were scarce, we were incredibly moved by the generosity of states around the country that stepped up to provide supplies and medical personnel in our time of need," Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “I said at the time that we would return the favor if and when other states needed help. Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, we will deploy remdesivir to help Florida care for patients as it waits for further supply from the federal government. We will stand by our fellow Americans every step of the way as our nation fights COVID-19 together."
Remdesivir is an experimental drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients. The supply shortage comes as Florida hospitals face record numbers of COVID-19 admissions. The state reported 12,624 additional COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total to 282,435 since the pandemic began.
The Florida Department of Health also notified hospitals July 1 that the remdesivir supply was exhausted and temporarily shut down the portal hospitals used to request the drug. But new supplies were made available to hospitals the following day.
Miami-Dade County has had by far the most COVID-19 cases in the state.
Migoya said Jackson, a major public hospital, had 400 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday, up from 200 about a month ago. Migoya said that while the hospital is seeing an increase in younger patients, there also has been an increase in older patients coming back.
“That means the younger people contaminated the older people,” he said.