The scene at the Jacksonville main public library was haunting, Louis Lopez recalled. As he waited for a Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment, he saw people so sick they couldn’t even stand.
“These people were in bad, bad shape,” he said. His experience Wednesday at the library, set up by the state as a location for treatment, has made him even more grateful he’s fully vaccinated.
“I lost two cousins to Covid in San Diego,” he told CNN in an interview. “If I was unvaccinated there’s no doubt in my mind it would have taken me out.”
Lopez has been sick with Covid-19 for well over a week with symptoms including swollen glands and a runny nose. When a persistent migraine worsened, he signed up for an appointment to get a monoclonal antibody treatment that he and many other Floridians have been hearing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tout in recent days.
“Don’t wait till you need to be hospitalized,” DeSantis said on Wednesday while visiting a facility in West Palm Beach. “Do it early, go in and people do good and obviously keep out of the hospital, but it resolves the symptoms for a lot of people very quickly to where they feel a lot better and they maybe they were not at a hospital-level initially, but they felt symptoms, this has a great opportunity to really resolve it and I think resolve it in a good fashion.”
Lopez said that he arrived at the library just before his noon appointment, and spent more than two hours with dozens of others waiting to get the treatment.
“As time went on, more people started showing up. And it became evident that they were taking walk-ins and appointments. Some of the people that were coming in were really sick,” Lopez told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday.
Awaiting treatment at the library
One woman in line was so sick that she couldn’t even stand, Lopez said. Because she couldn’t stand, he said she crawled over to the wall. Staff members provided some patients with paper gowns because it was cold. One person, Lopez said, was given a wheelchair because they couldn’t move.
“It really made it really clear and the severity of it,” Lopez said. “Not only that, but the seriousness of it.”
Libraries are normally places of solitude and silence. On Wednesday, however, Lopez described a persistent sound of crying and pained moans from some of those seeking treatment.
“That’s when I actually thought, ‘This thing, when I read that this thing kills,’” he said. “If you die because of Covid, not only are you going to be alone, you’re going to be in a lot of pain. It really illustrated that for me.”
His wife Suzanne shared a photo on Reddit that he took while in line. Seeing and hearing about the scene at the library pushed things over the edge for her, saying the entire ordeal has been stressful.
“It doesn’t have to be like that,” she said. “People don’t have to be that sick.”
Lopez said that he now only has a headache after receiving the monoclonal antibody treatment, and credited the staff administering the treatments.
“They were doing their very best with what they had at the moment. You could tell everything was new. It was a new situation. Everything’s chaotic. But they were absolutely fabulous, and I tip my hat off to them,” he said.
The location in Jacksonville is one of eight state-sponsored sites in Florida.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.