Viral photo of people on floor at Jacksonville Regeneron clinic ‘doesn’t convey how much pain they were in’
Louie Lopez showed up to the downtown Jacksonville Main Library Conference Center on Wednesday in the early afternoon for a Regeneron therapy appointment. His primary care doctor recommended it after Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing moderate to severe symptoms.
While waiting in line for his turn, two other people got in the line behind Lopez. Both of them, he says, sat down on the floor immediately. They eventually laid down “sick and moaning.” Lopez, 59, told the Times-Union the woman pictured in yellow was dragging herself on the floor as the line slowly moved forward.
Lopez took a photo and sent it to his wife.
The photo quickly went viral on Reddit after his wife, Suzanne, posted it on the social media platform with a message: “Everyone please be careful - whether you are vaccinated or not. My husband (vaccinated, but positive) has been waiting 2+ hours for monoclonal therapy and he says he has never seen people so sick. Moaning, crying, unable to move.”
About 24 hours after she posted it, the photo had hundreds of comments and had already made the rounds on social media, with many questioning why there weren’t more places for people to sit or rest while they waited.
“There were only a couple of chairs in there...But then as the line started to progress, more people came in and that's when I realized that they were taking walk-ins at the same time as appointments and the people that were laying down, they were behind me and I was just watching them for a while and they were just sick and moaning,” Lopez said. “Part of me wondered why [staff] didn't just take them up to the front. And it was cold in there. They brought some of those paper coats and covered them up and then probably after about another half hour, they came and got wheelchairs and put them on wheelchairs.”
Lopez arrived for his noon appointment but didn’t finish his treatment and head home until around 3 p.m. He estimates the woman pictured in yellow was on the ground for about an hour. He says the staff was doing their best but it seemed like “everything was new.”
Jacksonville has first state-run Regeneron center
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that Jacksonville would get the first state-run, city-supported Regeneron treatment center. The treatments, which have been used for months by doctors, inject monoclonal antibodies into people infected by the COVID-19 virus before they come down with serious symptoms that could lead to hospitalization and death.
The treatment is for people who have "either been diagnosed or exposed to someone with COVID-19, and are at high risk for progression to severe illness, hospitalization, or death," according to a city news release announcing the library site.
Nikki Kimbleton, director of public affairs for the city, said in a statement that the number of people seeking the treatment increased on Wednesday. On Tuesday, 97 doses of the treatment were administered. A day later, the number jumped to 143.
“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 statement read.
Florida Coast News reported that a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health said "when someone is at that level [pictured], they are moved" and taken to a hospital if needed.
Suzanne Lopez, Louie’s wife, told the Times-Union she didn’t expect her post to go beyond the Florida Covid subreddit.
“I put it out there as a 'hey everybody, be careful.' My husband is vaccinated and still is getting the monoclonal therapy and look how much worse it is for people who aren't vaccinated,” she said.
Lopez is feeling better since he first tested positive last week, and is only experiencing a mild headache and fatigue.
While the photo has garnered widespread attention, Lopez doesn’t think it captures the moment completely.
“They were very sick. I told somebody else that picture doesn't convey how much in pain they were because they were moaning,” Lopez said. “The poor woman in yellow could barely move. She needed help. I asked her at one point if she needed help. She said no, but she was just miserable.”
Katherine Lewin is the enterprise reporter at the Times-Union covering criminal and social justice issues in Northeast Florida. Email her at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @KatherineMLewin. Support local journalism!