The Texas Department of State Health Services opened a COVID-19 antibody infusion center in Montgomery County on Aug. 16 as part of an effort to aid state hospital capacity, according to an Aug. 13 press release.
The center can take up to 150 infusions per day and can admit 50 patients at a time, according to a Facebook post from Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough.
DSHS said that nine centers are planned to open or are already open across the state, including in San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. In a separate statement on Aug. 19, Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced that Fort Worth, Laredo and Odessa would open centers on Aug. 20, while Beaumont would open a center on Aug. 23. Travis County opened a regional infusion center in January prioritizing individuals vulnerable to the virus.
The governor's office also said that by the end of the week of Aug. 23, DSHS would call up 5,500 medical personnel to aid hospitals.
Antibody infusion centers treat COVID-19 patients who do not require hospitalization to make sure that their condition does not worsen. The centers use the therapeutic drug Regeneron to infuse monoclonal antibodies into the patient, enabling their immune system to fight the virus.
Regeneron received a Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization for the antibody treatment in November 2020.
"Antibody infusion centers play an integral role in our efforts to combat COVID-19 because they help prevent hospitalizations and ensure that resources are available to treat the most severe cases of this virus," Gov. Greg Abbott said. "Thank you to our local partners for working with the state of Texas to launch these centers across Texas. We will continue to work with local leaders to ensure our communities have the support they need to keep Texans safe and healthy."
Following Abbott's positive COVID-19 test on Aug. 17, his office confirmed that he was receiving the Regeneron treatment. On Aug. 19, the governor's office communications director Mark Miner released a separate statement saying that Abbott's physician referred the treatment and encouraged all Texans testing positive to receive the treatment. Miner also confirmed that in addition to the DSHS centers, 140 providers are providing the antibody treatment statewide.
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough posted photos of the center on Facebook. Keough wrote that plans were under way to increase the number of infusions per day and thanked regional partners including St. Luke’s Hospital, HCA Conroe and the Montgomery County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office for helping to get the center running.
“This is a great opportunity for Montgomery County to help keep as many people out of the hospitals locally and regionally. We are honored to be partnering with the state to bring this opportunity to our area,” Keough wrote.
Patients must receive a referral from their physician and must meet certain criteria. The center does not take walk-ins.