DeSantis Has Tweeted About Monoclonal Treatment 30 Times in August, Vaccines Just Once

Governor Ron DeSantis' official Twitter account has tweeted about monoclonal antibody treatments 30 times in August, but mentioned COVID-19 vaccines just once.

DeSantis has been promoting the treatment for COVID-19 in a series of tweets since August 5, highlighting the opening of treatment centers throughout the state and touting its efficacy.

However, the governor's Twitter account has tweeted about vaccines just once since August 1—in the form of a quote from Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University.

On August 1, DeSantis quoted Bhattacharya as saying: "We have protected the vulnerable by vaccinating the older population" and shared an image of the professor also featuring that quote.

The governor's account has not tweeted about "vaccines," "vaccination" or "vaccinating" since the August 1 post, according to an advanced Twitter search.

However, DeSantis has sent multiple tweets with the phrase "monoclonal antibody" over the course of the month, most recently several tweets on Monday.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is intended for those who have contracted COVID-19 and unlike vaccines, it is not a preventative measure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 73.8 percent of adults in Florida have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

DeSantis highlighted the opening of monoclonal antibody treatment centers in Englewood Charlotte Public Library, the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce and the Alachua County at Fellowship Church in High Springs.

On August 22, the governor shared a map of treatment centers throughout the state, saying: "Across the state of Florida, there are 14 monoclonal antibody treatment sites set up to serve COVID-19 positive Floridians—with more to come."

Earlier the same day, he shared a quote and video from Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, Florida Department of Emergency Management Chief Medical Officer about the treatment.

"Monoclonal antibody treatments are a very good therapy for folks that develop COVID-19. It'll save your life and keep you out of the hospital," Scheppke said.

“Monoclonal antibody treatments are a very good therapy for folks that develop COVID-19. It’ll save your life and keep you out of the hospital.” – Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, FDEM Chief Medical Officer

— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 22, 2021

On August 18, DeSantis wrote: "Those who try to politicize COVID treatments are doing a disservice to those who may be deterred from seeking life-saving treatments.

"Monoclonal antibody treatments have a proven record of reducing the need for hospitalization and are available free of charge to patients," he said.

As DeSantis has promoted monoclonal antibody treatments on Twitter, the state of Florida has been grappling with a surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant with virus deaths in the state reaching a new record high.

On Monday, the Florida Hospitals Association reported that there were 16,827 confirmed hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Florida. On Saturday, August 22, there were 14,621 confirmed new cases.

DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told Newsweek in a statement on Wednesday: "There is no policy priority that Governor DeSantis has devoted more time, effort, and energy to than COVID-19 vaccine promotion. Everyone is free to check his public schedules, which are released every day, and count the number of vaccine-focused events he did relative to any other type of event.

"Governor DeSantis has had over 50 vaccine-specific events, appearing in 27 counties around the state. He has published over 100 social media posts to highlight those efforts and promote vaccination," she said.

"The efficacy and value of vaccines have been mentioned specifically at least 1,600+ times in over 100 different public appearances from November 2020 until present, including yesterday, when he mentioned that the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved.

"At almost every press conference in the last few weeks, Governor DeSantis has spoken positively of the vaccines and how they protect most people from serious illness if infected with COVID-19. Moreover, the Florida Department of Health has done extensive PSA campaigns about vaccines."

Pushaw went on: "Governor DeSantis has stated unequivocally that the evidence shows vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Likewise, the evidence shows us that vaccinated people can and do get infected and spread COVID-19. While the vaccines are life-saving, they do not prevent people from getting COVID-19."

"The bottom line—the vast majority of Floridians by now are aware of the vaccines, where to get them for free, and the benefits they have in preventing severe illness. By contrast, fewer Floridians are aware of monoclonal antibody treatments, which are saving lives of patients (both vaccinated and unvaccinated) who become ill with COVID-19 and seek treatment early," she said.

"Many Floridians believe, incorrectly, that the monoclonals cost thousands of dollars, and this is dangerous disinformation, because it could make some people hesitate to seek the life-saving treatment they need. Many Floridians are also not aware of what counts as a high risk group, and part of the goal of the press events around monoclonals is to educate the public on what the risk factors are for COVID complications, so people in those risk groups know that they are eligible for monoclonals and should immediately get this treatment if they test positive," Pushaw added.

She also pointed to the fact that Florida's vaccine rate is above the national average, ahead of Michigan, Ohio, Nevada and many other states.

"Almost two-thirds of eligible Floridians 12+ are vaccinated. The percentage is much higher among senior citizens," Pushaw said.

UPDATE 8/25/21 2.38 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a statement from Governor DeSantis' office.

Ron DeSantis Speaks at a Press Conference
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Assault Brigade 2506 Honorary Museum on August 5, 2021 in Hialeah, Florida. DeSantis has tweeted about COVID-19 vaccines once in August. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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