News Cast 11/19

News Cast for November 19th:

You might have noticed yesterday that there have been fields in Okeechobee County filled with children playing football and that’s because there is currently a national tournament going on. Members of the Okeechobee Bulls Youth Athletic League recently got permission from the Okeechobee County Commissioners to waive fees to allow for teams all over the southern region to participate in this tournament over the next few days. These fees include use of the county’s fields, lighting, bleachers, etc. Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says this tournament is lucrative economy-wise for the community considering there are eighty teams participating, with coaches, team officials and family members attending.

Teams participating have come from Georgia and Alabama and they’ll be here through Sunday for this tournament.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic still a part of our lives everywhere in the world, there’s still a time to recognize the value of good health and today is that day in Okeechobee County. During their last meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners declared today, November 19th as Rural Health Day in the county. This proclamation was requested to the commissioners on behalf of members of the Lake Okeechobee Rural Health Network, created in 1994 with the goal of ensuring that all residents of rural communities have access to affordable health care through the integration of private and public resources as well as health care providers. Jenny Pung, spokesperson for Raulerson Hospital, says people need to take this day seriously in Okeechobee for obvious reasons (Pung-Rural Health Day 1). Pung and Brian Melear, CEO of Raulerson Hospital were on hand to accept the proclamation. County Health Department Spokesperson Tiffany Collins and local optometrist Christine Brennan were also on hand for the proclamation.

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters a week ago Sunday morning. Firefighters were called to the 28 hundred block of NW 20th Trail just before 9:40 and arrived to a Pontiac sedan with smoke and flames emanating from the engine compartment. Crews had to forcibly open the hood of the car with a reciprocating saw to get the fire in order to extinguish it, which they were able to accomplish in just under a half hour. Investigators say the owner of the vehicle told fire crews that she smelled something odd coming from the engine as she was parking it and then flames started to come out. Total damage to the car is estimated at two thousand dollars. No one was hurt. It’s under investigation.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday unfortunately rose by 21 more but fortunately the number of fatalities once again stayed the same for the eighth straight day.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,905 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are holding steady at 43. 1,898 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from infant to one hundred with the median age of the patients being an even forty. Hospitalized county residents went up by three, as they now number at 201. Those who’ve 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. As of yesterday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 905,208 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 892,352 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 17,731 with 52,637 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 floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Lauren Elizabeth Masters of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of first degree petit theft and possession of methamphetamine and other controlled substances without a prescription. She’s being held without bond.

19 year old Armando Cruz-Gancerez of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and intentional child abuse. He was released after posting a $3250.00 dollar bond.

29 year old Catrina Diane Edison of Okeechobee was arrested for drug possession and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

53 year old Ronald Lee Jackson Senior of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250.00 dollar bond.

34 year old Techalin Joseph of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

32 year old Niceforo Rendon of Okeechobee was arrested on a Hardee County warrant for possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

48 year old Maria Mae Dusen of Okeechobee was arrested by police for possession of drug paraphernalia. She was released after posting a $750.00 dollar bond.

58 year old Keith McFadden of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Andrea Leigh Hatfield of Okeechobee was arrested for shoplifting and resisting an officer without violence. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

54 year old Danny Earl Mosely of Okeechobee was arrested for assault. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.