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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Asks President Joe Biden To Delay Reductions To COVID-19 Treatments

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - A day after Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged to "fight like hell" to maintain Florida's supply of monoclonal antibody treatments for people with COVID-19, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried asked President Joe Biden to hold off on changing Florida's allotment of the therapeutics.

Fried, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2022, asked for planned changes to the national distribution of antibody drugs to be delayed until the COVID-19 caseload is "further reduced" in Florida.

"While federal health officials have set Florida's allocation of treatment doses at 30,950, I am concerned that more residents may need to avail themselves of this therapy than doses will be available, given our state's long delay in implementing this therapy," Fried, Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, wrote in a letter to the White House Friday.

"While we certainly understand the frustration at the inequitable distribution of this treatment to just a handful of states, I would respectfully ask that time be extended before altering our current dose allotments, giving our state time to further reduce COVID-19 cases from their recent peaks."

A handful of states, including Florida, have obtained the bulk of the monoclonal antibody treatments available thus far, according to White House officials. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is allocating a weekly distribution "based on weekly reports of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in addition to data on inventories and use" submitted by states to the federal government, agency officials said this week.

Florida this week will be capped at receiving 27,850 doses of the monoclonal antibody treatment Regeneron and 3,100 doses of treatments developed by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, according to federal health officials.

Florida's apportionment of treatments represents the largest share of any state.

DeSantis, who regularly locks horns with Biden's administration on COVID-19 mitigation strategies, said Thursday that the federal government is putting up "obstacles" to the state receiving the drugs, which the governor has touted as an effective early treatment to combat the virus, and pledged to "fight like hell to make sure that our folks get what they need."

Biden's plan to combat COVID-19 in part promises to increase the average weekly pace of shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments by a further 50 percent in September.

Fried's letter to the White House Friday also swiped at her political rival, saying that Floridians "have been victims of the DeSantis administration's pandemic mismanagement and misinformation."

According to the Florida Department of Health, 51,240 Floridians have died from COVID-19 since the onset of the virus last year.

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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