Photo of sick COVID patients moaning on floor goes viral

Regeneron clinic in Jacksonville, Florida
Regeneron treatment clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo credit Imagn Content Services

A photo going viral of two severely ill COVID patients lying on the ground while awaiting treatment in Florida is the latest reminder of how badly the illness can affect someone.

The photo was taken at the Jacksonville Main Library Conference Center, where patients have been lining up to receive monoclonal therapy.

Louie Lopez, 59, took the photo and sent it to his wife, who posted it to Reddit.

"Everyone please be careful - whether you are vaccinated or not," she wrote. "My husband (vaccinated, but positive) has been waiting 2+ hours for monoclonal therapy and he says he has never seen people so sick. Moaning, crying, unable to move."

Lopez told the Florida Times-Union that one of the women in the photo was lying on the ground for about an hour.

"They were very sick. I told somebody else that picture doesn't convey how much in pain they were because they were moaning," Lopez said. "The poor woman in yellow could barely move. She needed help. I asked her at one point if she needed help. She said no, but she was just miserable."

Lopez said the staff was doing their best to help every patient, but it seemed like "everything was new."

"There were only a couple of chairs in there...But then as the line started to progress, more people came in and that's when I realized that they were taking walk-ins at the same time as appointments and the people that were laying down, they were behind me and I was just watching them for a while and they were just sick and moaning," Lopez told the paper. "Part of me wondered why [staff] didn't just take them up to the front. And it was cold in there. They brought some of those paper coats and covered them up and then probably after about another half hour, they came and got wheelchairs and put them on wheelchairs."

A city spokesperson told First Coast News that the scene was the result of large patient volume, which more than doubled Wednesday.

"There were wheelchairs on hand, but at the time these pictures were taken, all of the available wheelchairs were in use," spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton said in a statement.

Lopez said his appointment was at noon but it took about three hours before he received the treatment, which is designed for people in the early stages of COVID.

Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in patients who have either been diagnosed or exposed to someone with COVID-19, and are at high risk for progression to severe illness, hospitalization or death. The treatment, also known by its brand name Regeneron, is not meant for those who are suffering from severe symptoms. Those individuals should contact medical professionals for guidance on the proper treatment for their situation.