(PresidentialInsider.com)- A panel from the Florida legislature approved a $1.2 billion supplemental funding request from the Division of Emergency Management in the state to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic last week, allowing the funding of three new initiatives designed to help people who contract the Chinese coronavirus.
The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of 14 members and has been given the authority to make budget decisions between sessions, voted unanimously to fund initiatives and stimulus allocations that are worth $1.2 billion. The biggest part of that stimulus is $643.4 million set aside for 300,000 doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s sotrovimab drug, which costs $2,100 per dose.
It is one of a number of new antibody treatment options that are not available federally. The drug provides COVID-19 patients with life-saving antibodies that help them fight the infection and build natural immunity.
Mark Mahoney, the Financial Management Administrator of the panel, said that the request is more of a precaution than it is an urgency, given that the number of people infected with the virus in the state is dropping.
“We’re seeing a sharp decline right now in cases, so it doesn’t seem to be basically as much of a need,” he said.
The request for funding was sponsored by popular Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said that the state should acquire the drug as a precaution – citing claims that Florida was purposely given a smaller quantity of monoclonal antibody doses than it should have been given by the federal government over political disagreements.
Florida announced after the federal government capped deliveries of antibody doses to Florida and other Republican states that it would begin purchasing as many doses as possible through its own financial resources. Since the announcement in September, it looks as though Governor DeSantis followed through with that promise.