As hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the city of Dalton has taken a proactive approach that is to be applauded.
Beginning this past Friday, the city began providing the monoclonal antibody treatment Regeneron that can help your body fight COVID. The treatment is free, and Dalton is believed to be the first city to provide Regeneron.
"This treatment has been shown to significantly reduce a person's chances of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 if administered within the first seven days of infection," said Dr. Zachary Taylor, interim director of North Georgia Health District 1-2, which is based in Dalton.
A person's antibodies work by binding to a virus or bacteria and preventing it from infecting that person's body. Monoclonal antibodies are made by cloning natural antibodies. The technology has been around for about 30 years and is used to combat cancer and other diseases.
The shots are being given in the gravel parking lot of the Dalton Convention Center. Those who receive the shot must remain at the site for an hour to be observed for any adverse side effects.
Dalton and Whitfield County have been offering COVID-19 vaccinations on a drive-thru basis at the convention center since January, with paramedics and EMTs from the Dalton and Whitfield County fire departments working with staff from Community Hospice (which is owned by City Councilmember Annalee Harlan) and other healthcare providers to administer the vaccine.
The Regeneron shot is by appointment only. Registration is available on the city's website (daltonga.gov). There's a red bar across the top of the site to click to get information and sign up.
Because the treatment is provided by the state through a federal program, people do not have to be residents of Dalton or even of the state of Georgia to sign up. Officials said their goal is to provide the treatment seven days a week so if someone gets a positive test result they can get the treatment quickly.
Those who do not have internet access or need more information can call (706) 671-8057. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your contact information and the call will be returned as soon as possible.
We salute the Dalton City Council and everyone else involved in providing the Regeneron treatment to our community. The city's push to provide Regeneron was brought on by the crush of COVID patients Hamilton Medical Center has housed this month. On Friday, the hospital had 68 COVID patients (63 unvaccinated; 93%); 17 of those were in the ICU (16 unvaccinated; 94%); and 11 were on ventilators (10 unvaccinated; 91%).
The hope is to lessen the strain on the hospital by treating those infected by COVID with Regeneron. If you have been diagnosed with COVID, please consider getting the Regeneron treatment. If you are unvaccinated, please consider getting vaccinated.