News Cast 11/30

News Cast for November 30th:

With the Holiday season in full swing and many local businesses still reeling from the affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shopping weeks leading up to Christmas are more important than ever. Online shopping has been trending upward greatly the past few years due to convenience and now with the importance of social distancing, and that has some local business owners worried. Speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee, Joe Papasso who owns Big Lake Hobbies says shopping online through major corporations such as Amazon may be convenient but it has a very negative affect for local businesses. Papasso also says that shopping online and taking those dollars away from the local economy has a trickle down affect.

Covid -19 numbers continue to rise in our area..  As of Sunday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,033 recorded positive cases of the Coronavirus since March. 2,020 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 forty. The fatality rate for Okeechobee remains at 43. 209 county residents have been hospitalized. 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 Sunday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 985,297 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 969,813 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 18,442 with 54,591 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.

If you have 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

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) detectives are investigating a vehicle accident that claimed the life of a 77 year old Okeechobee man last Tuesday night in Okeechobee County. FHP officers say the man was driving a pickup truck, coming out of the Dollar Store General parking lot on NW 30th Lane just before 6:15 when he pulled into traffic in front of another oncoming pickup truck. The driver of the second pickup truck collided with the 77 year old man’s truck on its left side and then the driver of a third pickup truck could not avoid colliding with the first two trucks. The impact sent the 77 year old man’s truck over the median and ended up on the left shoulder of the road. The second and third trucks ended up on the road’s left shoulder and median, respectively. The 77 year old man was declared dead at the scene by medics. The occupants of the second and third trucks received minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Due to Marsy’s Law, FHP is not releasing the names of those involved in the accident.