News Cast 10/14

News Cast for October 14th:

Officials from the Okeechobee County Fire Rescue Department, in cooperation with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department’s Communications Center, has announced they have implemented the Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD) Program. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says the EMD Program is a system of cards that emergency dispatchers use, based on types of emergency calls they get, that helps them determine the right priority and right units to dispatch and it gives callers instructions on rendering first aid before emergency personnel arrives. Franklin says this system went online about a week and a half ago and it’s proven thus far to be a better system for dispatchers and callers.

The system has been in the works for the last year or so and, according to Franklin, the county didn’t pay for much of it at all; it is mostly paid for by an emergency medical services (EMS) grant worth about $17 thousand dollars. Dispatchers went through 32 hours of training with the EMD cards as well as CPR certification and handling of stress taking the calls.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose again, albeit slightly, but unfortunately, the number of fatalities also rose again by one.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,643 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March along with now 34 fatalities. 1,638 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to an even one hundred with the median age of the patients being forty. 183 county residents have been hospitalized.  Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste. Overall, as of yesterday morning, the state has 738,749 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 729,591 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 15,531 with 46,225 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, otherwise please bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations. The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm now every Tuesday thru Saturday. This number, which also doubles as the phone number of the County Library is manned by live personnel and callers can ask about county updates on the Coronavirus and what is being done. The hotline will not address questions about the virus itself or medical questions. The County Library phone number/hotline related to county updates on the Coronavirus is (863) 763-3536. Any questions related to the virus itself, please call the Okeechobee Health Department at (863) 462-5800 or the 24/7 Department of Health hotline at (866) 779-6121. Remember, the key to avoiding the Coronavirus is good personal hygiene. Washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands. Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from someone when greeting them and not shaking any hands. Avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead.  Avoid places where there are 10 people or more.

If you need further information about the virus and recommendations for preventing it, please log on to the Department of Health at or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

39 year old Joshua Sentell Henry of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia and a capias warrant for introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

30 year old Lindsay Byrd Sauls of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Jonathan Douglas Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested for loitering and resisting arrest. He was released after posting a $1250.00 dollar bond.

35 year old Elizabeth Ann Turner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Christopher Jose Arce of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary with assault, battery with a weapon and petit theft. His bond is set at eleven thousand dollars.

29 year old Rudy Mendez Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a conditional pre-trial release agreement on previous domestic violence charges. He’s being held without bond.

25 year old Kiersten Joy Peterson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone without a prescription. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

37 year old Jennifer Marie Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on multiple past charges of possessing the controlled substance buprenorphine without a prescription with intent to sell. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

34 year old John Dee Draughn of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Federico Vasquez-Alejandro of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $750.00 dollar bond.