Actions will result in a 50% capacity increase for treatments in the Twin Cities
As part of an ongoing effort to ensure Minnesotans have access to the tools they need to fight the surge of COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz announced on Tuesday that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and M Health Fairview are expanding access to monoclonal antibodies COVID-19 treatments in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.
MDH is expanding the hours and capacity at its St. Paul Clinic and has requested additional staff support for the central region of the state from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Also, M Health Fairview is adding about 300 appointments for monoclonal antibody treatment at its Columbia Heights clinic and MDH will add an additional 140 appointments a week. Together, these efforts will result in a 50% capacity increase for the treatments in the Twin Cities.
“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve worked hard to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans at every turn,” said Governor Walz. “That’s why we’re working to expand access to monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatments for Minnesotans, strengthening our efforts to get Minnesotans across the state the resources they need to fight this virus.”
“We are working to ensure each and every Minnesotan, in every community, has fair and equitable access to monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatments. This treatment is so important and made all the difference to alleviate my symptoms when I contracted COVID-19,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.
“While this therapy has saved lives, it is not a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to urge Minnesotans to roll up their sleeves and get their shot to protect themselves and their loved ones,” continued Lt. Gov. Flanagan.
Antibodies are proteins that people’s bodies make to fight viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body—they are called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies last for 90 days, whereas COVID-19 vaccines help people form their own antibodies that can last months.
Patients and their providers seeking monoclonal antibody treatments can make an appointment at these clinics and other locations by using the state’s online tool, the Minnesota Resource Allocation Platform (MNRAP). These sites are not open to walk-in appointments.
COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment can help qualifying patients get better faster. It is an outpatient treatment for patients with mild to moderate symptoms that started within the past 10 days, and who are at high risk of their illness leading to hospitalization or death. Learn more at the webpage COVID-19 Medication Options.
“These moves strengthen the capacity of providers in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota to respond to potentially serious COVID-19 cases,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We thank M Health Fairview for its continued commitment to treating COVID-19 patients by provide this life saving treatment for more than a year.”
Demand for monoclonal antibody treatment has increased throughout the pandemic. Minnesota has been administering about 2,000 doses a week of the treatment since the beginning of October with the peak week during this surge being 2,599 treatments the week of November 10-16.
To receive this treatment, people who have tested positive for or who been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their health care provider or visit the Minnesota Resource Allocation Platform (MNRAP) to request an appointment. The newly opened site is not a walk-in clinic.
“There’s a clear need for more access to monoclonal antibodies in the Twin Cities,” said Hospitalist Andrew Olson, MD, director of COVID hospital medicine at M Health Fairview. “We’re proud to offer expanded capacity through our partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health. By increasing our capacity to administer this therapy to patients with COVID, we may be able to decrease the strain on our emergency departments and hospitals from the continued surge of COVID-19 patients. Together with continued vaccination and other measures such as masking and testing, this site will make a real difference.”
MNRAP is an online scheduling tool the state created during the pandemic to facilitate equitable access to monoclonal treatments. Patients or their caregivers can access MNRAP to find out if they qualify for treatment. The website will also refer them to the nearest site with an available appointment, including the new St. Paul clinic.
MDH partnered with Matrix Medical Network, an Arizona-based company that runs workplace and mobile health clinics and provides telehealth services, in October to open a monoclonal treatment clinic in St. Paul located near Interstate 35E and Arlington Avenue West.
—Information provided by the Office of Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health.