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.
COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2) Tests
You can test yourself at home with free test kits or at many convenient local testing sites that offer rapid or 24-hour results. Time is of the essence. Call the Sarasota County call center at 941-861-2883 or click here for FREE local testing sites
. Order your FREE test kits at: covid.gov/tests
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, as well as monoclonal antibody therapy (Bebtelovimab), which can be administered with a doctor's order in some local hospitals/medical clinics. The benefits and risks of combination therapy (e.g., giving Paxlovid with Bebtelovimab) 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.
For Physicians, Pharmacists, Allied Health Providers Click here to download
the coalition’s Outpatient Treatment Guide for People with Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19.
These potentially life-saving medications are widely available at:
CVS/Walgreens - Most CVS and Walgreens pharmacies across Sarasota and the Suncoast region have the anti-viral medications in stock and can quickly fill a prescription from your doctor. 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*
* Note: Most health insurance plans cover 100% of your COVID testing and treatments. If you are uninsured, self-pay costs at urgent care centers and health clinics vary, starting at about $150 for an office visit and an additional $100 for a COVID test if needed (some centers will accept results of home tests so that you do not need to re-test).
Care Options for low-income/uninsured
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.
Low-Cost Care in our Community
If you are having trouble accessing affordable care, you may qualify for discounts at a federally supported, low-cost health center. Find one near you here
Visit the Florida Department of Health COVID Response webpage
for vaccine, testing and treatment information in English, Spanish and Creole. Help also is available from Suncoast Cares call specialists 24/7 in 180 languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.org
Monoclonal antibody treatments
For higher risk patients who are unable to receive Paxlovid (e.g., due to a significant interaction with another medication), the monoclonal antibody Bebtelovimab may be considered. It must be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID test and within 7 days of the onset of symptoms. The antibody therapy is available on an outpatient basis at several hospitals and medical centers on the Suncoast to treat high-risk people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Treatment must be ordered by a physician and patients must be deemed eligible according to the FDA emergency-use criteria and site-specific physician referral systems.
Community members who test positive for COVID-19 and believe they are at high risk of developing severe disease-19 due to older age, immune-suppressing conditions or other risk factors such as pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, or chronic heart, lung or kidney disease should contact their local physician to initiate the screening and referral process.
The national COVID-19 Therapeutics locators lists the following monoclonal antibody therapy locations in our region:
Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Due to limited supply, SMH cannot make direct patient appointments at this time. Providers can contact Sarasota Memorial's COVID medical leadership team for eligibility and referral information. The latest information and updates also are recorded on the SMH Monoclonal Antibody Information line (941-262-0135).
ShorePoint Health - Venice
No inventory reported. Please contact the provider at (941) 485-7711 to make sure supplies are available.
Tringali Park R - Englewood
State-supported site temporarily closed.
(Webpage last updated May 6, 2022)
Prevention Therapy for Immune-Suppressed Outpatients
Sarasota Memorial also is administering Evusheld, a long-acting monoclonal antibody against SARS-CoV-2 that can give immunocompromised people added protection from COVID-19 for up to 6 months. For information, visit smh.com/covid19 or call the SMH Evusheld Information line at 941-917-6870.
Getting a booster shot could save your life. If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised of any age over 12 years old and more than 4 months have passed since your last COVID-19 vaccine you should get another dose now. If you are over 50 years old and over 4 months have elapsed since your 3rd dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), you may choose to get a booster. Visit covid.gov to find a list of vaccination sites near you and other helpful tips to stay safe.
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