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How to get new antiviral drugs for COVID: Sarasota hospital releases new guide

an aerial shot of Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Sarasota Memorial Hospital

In the past several months, new treatments have emerged, which are most effective within the first five days of symptoms but patients may have a hard time knowing whether they qualify.

With coronavirus cases on the rise again in Florida, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has started a program to make it easier for patients to find COVID treatments, like the antiviral Paxlovid.

Infectious disease doctor Manuel Gordillo says people over 65, or those 12 and up with a medical condition that increases their risk of severe COVID, are eligible. He says Paxlovid is the best option, and a prescription is needed.

"So if you get infected, you can get it within five days for the orals, seven days for the injectables. And those decrease the chances of hospitalization or death," he said.

Pfizer data shows Paxlovid -- taken within five days of infection -- decreases the risk of hospitalization or death by 88 percent.

A new website to explain the latest treatments and how to get them at is smh.com/treatcovid.

Gordillo also recommends that everyone stay up to date on their coronavirus vaccines and boosters.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.