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During its meeting Tuesday, the Ellis County Commissioners Court approved an agreement with MD Lab LLC to share the cost of a regional monoclonal antibody Infusion center with the city of Ferris.

County Judge Todd Little spoke in favor of the monoclonal infusion, also known as Regeneron, treatment. He shared with the court how Regeneron made a difference in his recovery from COVID-19.

“I will step out there and personally say that Regeneron on day seven (of my battle) for me was the difference-maker when I had COVID,” Little said. “The No. 1 goal is to remove and reduce the number of ICU patients in the hospital, and I think this will help.”

The cost to operate the infusion center is $180,000 per month. This cost will be split 50/50 between the county and the city of Ferris, with each contributing $90,000 a month. The total cost agreed upon by both governmental bodies is not to exceed $360,000, or two months of operation, unless extended by the court.

In a press release, Ferris City Manager Brooks Williams said residents of the city of Ferris and or Ellis County will be able to receive the antibody therapy treatment free of charge at the center.

“You do not have to have health insurance to receive treatment,” Brooks wrote. “The therapy is for those with COVID who are within the first 10 days of showing symptoms.”

Brooks noted a study that found Regeneron reduces the risk of hospitalization by 70%.

“Patients will be receiving therapy injection of the antibodies,” Brooks wrote. “Antibodies are what your immune system typically produces on its own in response to an illness you’ve had in the past. If your body recognizes the illness, it will produce antibodies to neutralize that bacteria or virus so that it cannot infect your cells. If you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID, your body is not producing the antibodies to attack the virus. If you’ve had the vaccine, you are producing some antibodies and this therapy treatment injects additional antibodies to assist in neutralizing the virus.”

Emergency Management coordinator Samantha Pickett told the court that having an infusion center in the county will be a valuable resource. She noted the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.

“We have been on a three-week surge where ICU has been at least 40% over capacity,” Pickett said. “They actually reduced the in-patient amount of beds to increase ICU. With the monoclonal antibody treatment, this can actually help reduce the people coming in and lessening those effects.”

Without the facility, the county would only be able to treat 37 people per day with the infusion treatment: 30 patients per day at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie and seven people per day at Ennis Regional Medical Center. The infusion center will allow 157 people to be treated per day.

“With our COVID numbers the way that they are, this will help to reduce that amount,” Pickett said.

Commissioners approved the interlocal agreement between the city of Ferris and the county, an agreement with MD Lab LLC, the city of Ferris and the county, and the funding for the regional infusion center. 

Those interested in receiving the antibody therapy treatment can register for an appointment at mdlabtx.com; walk-ins are welcomed. No prescription is required. Although the treatment is open to everyone, Ellis County and city of Ferris residents will get priority if slots become limited. The infusion center is set up at the Scout House, 514 Mable St. in Ferris.

In other business, commissioners voted to reinstate the county’s COVID-19 exposure and illness policy that allows county employees up to 10 days or 80 hours of paid sick leave due to an exposure or positive COVID-19 test. Before returning to work, a negative test or a physician’s statement must be submitted.

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