FORT WORTH, Texas - Tarrant County is now offering a special treatment for people with COVID-19 who are not yet seriously ill enough to be in a hospital.
Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment, is available for free from the state at a new infusion center in Fort Worth.
It’s the same treatment former President Donald Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott received after testing positive for COVID-19.
Patients must have a doctor referral and be at least 12 years old to get the IV infusion of monoclonal antibodies. The goal is to limit the number of people who end up in already crowded hospitals.
State Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford explained some logistics.
"Most of the people will be getting this by IV infusion. So they take the antibody mixture and put it into a bag of saline and infuse that over about an hour," she explained. "And then people need to be monitored for about an hour afterward just to make sure they are not having any side effects to the medication."
The Fort Worth location can treat 90 patients per day who must first meet one of the following medical criteria:
- Older age (for example, age ≥ 65)
- Obesity or being overweight (for example, BMI > 25 kg/m2)
- Chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or immunosuppressive disease
- Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Cardiovascular disease or hypertension
- Chronic lung diseases
- Sickle cell disease
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Having a medical-related technological dependence
- High-risk ethnicity groups (Latino or Black)
Another important thing to note is that it’s not a walk-in situation. Patients must have a medical referral.
"That referral can come from a primary care physician, it can come from a hospital emergency room or freestanding emergency room. There are multiple ways for a person diagnosed with COVID can get referred over to the infusion center," Shuford said. "This treatment is specifically for people who are outpatients for people who haven't gotten to the point that they require hospitalization."
Early treatment can reportedly reduce a person’s risk of hospitalization and death by 85%.
"The opening of the Infusion Center is a great tool to help reduce the load on the over-burdened hospitals across Tarrant County and DFW," said Dr. Catherine Colquitt with the Tarrant County Public Health Authority.
The building where the infusion center is housed is owned by Cook Children's, but it is not operated by the hospital. Instead, it is completely run DSHS.