COVID-19 Treatments in our Community
While vaccination continues to provide the best protection against COVID-19, therapies are now available to help treat eligible people on the Suncoast who do get sick. Knowing if you qualify for any of these potentially lifesaving interventions and how to access them can be confusing, even for physicians. The Sarasota County COVID Therapy Coalition has compiled the following information to help you access the right treatment at the right time.
Don't Delay - Get Tested
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to test yourself as soon as possible so you can protect others around you and get early treatment to decrease the risk of severe disease, especially if you are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.
Don't delay. Treatments are available outside of the hospital, but they must be started within the first few days of your symptoms, and require either a prescription or referral order from your doctor.
Local Treatment Options
If you test positive for COVID-19, and are an older adult or someone at high risk of getting very sick from the virus, talk to a doctor as soon as possible about your treatment options, even if your symptoms are mild.
Treatment options that can reduce your risk of hospitalization and death include oral anti-viral medications (Paxlovid and Molnupiravir), which are available by prescription at many local retail pharmacies. Monoclonal antibody therapy also may be available with a doctor's order in some local hospitals/medical clinics. The benefits and risks of combination therapy (e.g., giving Paxlovid with other therapies) is not known at this time and therefore not recommended.
How & Where to Get Treatment
Oral anti-viral medications must be started within 5 days of your first symptom. If you are over the age of 65, or if you are age 18 to 64 and have common medical conditions or disabilities that put you at higher risk, you are eligible for the oral antivirals. These potentially life-saving medications are widely available at local retail pharmacies. There is no cost for the medications, but you may need to schedule a visit with your healthcare provider to get a prescription.
If you do not have a local care provider, prescriptions can be obtained from a provider at:
- Test-to-Treat Sites: A limited number of retail pharmacies have health clinics onsite where a clinician can evaluate/test you and provide a prescription the same day or next day if needed. Appointments required. Costs vary*
- Walk-In Medical/Urgent Care Centers: Many are open 7 days a week and offer extended hours. Clinicians can evaluate/test you and usually give you a prescription for oral anti-virals the same day or next day. No appointments necessary. Costs vary*
- CenterPlace Health: With 6 locations throughout Sarasota County, the not-for-profit health center accepts Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, and offers reduced rates using an income-based formula for those who qualify for financial assistance. Appointments are required. Some telehealth services available. Information: (941) 529-0200.
Other Approved Outpatient Therapies for COVID-19
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has paused the use of the monoclonal antibody treatment Bebtelovimab because it is not expected to neutralize circulating Omicron variants. For higher risk non-hospitalized patients who are unable to receive Paxlovid (e.g., due to a significant interaction with another medication), health care providers may consider other approved therapies. Prescriber information is available here.
About the Sarasota County COVID Therapy Coalition
Made up of multi-disciplinary experts from Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the Florida Department of Health - Sarasota County and our community partners in health, the Sarasota County COVID Therapy Coalition’s mission is to educate people living on the Suncoast, and local healthcare providers, about new and emerging therapies that are available in our community to help prevent severe illness and hospitalization among the elderly and other high-risk individuals, and to provide the information and support necessary to ensure everyone in our community has access to the right treatment at the right time.
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System | Infectious Disease Associates | Florida Department of Health – Sarasota County | CenterPlace Health | Florida Academy of PAs - Sarasota County | Gulf Coast Medical Society | Sarasota County Medical Society | Multicultural Health Institute | Sarasota NAACP | Walgreens – Sarasota | Unidos Now | Barancik Foundation
(Webpage last updated Jan. 4, 2023)