JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Signs have been put up at the Jacksonville Main Library after a photo went viral on Thursday of patients at monoclonal antibody treatment laying on the ground.
The photo was taken by Louie Lopez when he went to get the treatment at the downtown Jacksonville site Wednesday. He said he expected to see sick people like himself, but not people as sick as he saw.
Lopez took a picture that has since been shared countless times of patients laying on the ground.
"The picture really doesn't do it justice in the sense that these people were in pain," he explained.
Officials for the state-run and city-supported site confirmed Thursday the patients in the picture that Lopez's wife posted to Reddit were waiting for the treatment. The state contracted CDR Maguire Health & Medical to run the site.
A city spokesperson said the scene was the result of large patient volume, which she said more than doubled Wednesday.
Just one day after the photo went viral, staff added signs that read:
"Please do not sit or lay on the floor. If you require immediate medical attention, please alert a staff member."
First Coast News reached out to city officials Friday for an updated statement and are waiting to hear back.
Officials for the state-run and city-supported site confirmed Thursday the patients in the picture that Lopez's wife posted to Reddit were waiting for the treatment. The state contracted CDR Maguire Health & Medical to run the site. A city spokesperson said the scene was the result of large patient volume, which she said more than doubled Wednesday.
On Thursday, Nikki Kimbleton, director of communications/public affairs for Jacksonville, sent the following statement:
"The volume of patients at this state operated facility more than doubled yesterday. There were wheelchairs on hand, but at the time these pictures were taken, all of the available wheelchairs were in use. In order to support the State of Florida in their efforts to provide this important treatment (that they’ve contracted out to CDR Maguire), 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."
The city later amended the statement, adding that “monoclonal antibody treatment is the key to alleviating stress on area hospitals” and thanked Governor DeSantis for providing the treatment to Jacksonville residents.
This site is state-run and city-supported. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health said she wanted to assure everyone that this is not a normal incident that takes place at any of the state's antibody treatment centers.
She said cots are available for patients, and "when someone is at that level [pictured], they are moved" and helped to a better location. She also said if someone is in a state where they need to be transported to a hospital, there are ambulatory services to ensure they're taken quickly to a hospital.
The Florida DOH spokesperson said they were already expanding existing cots for people who need privacy while they wait for the treatment.
Monoclonal antibody treatment is offered at the center for those 12 and older. It is recommended for those who tested positive for COVID-19, were exposed, or within 10 days of symptom onset.