News Cast 12/11

News Cast for December 11th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners got a visit from representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) yesterday during their meeting on some upcoming roadwork that raised some concerns. The work, which will involve Route 70 between NE 4th Avenue and NE 17th Avenue, will include a narrowing of the road from twelve feet to eleven feet. This was a major concern to virtually all of the commissioners considering the traffic that is usually found on that stretch of road, specifically truck drivers. Commissioner Kelly Owens says it’s already a concern now with the road being at its current width.

The commissioners felt that putting in an extra traffic light is a better solution than narrowing of the road but Michael Johnson of FDOT says analyses have shown that narrowing of the road cuts down on excess speed on the road as well as accidents and while FDOT is there to listen to ideas and feedback on the project, it doesn’t mean that they will go through with a traffic light instead.

The roadwork is needed due to drainage issues and much needed resurfacing and is expected to begin in 2022.

Once again, if you need some free food, come on down to the Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee County tomorrow morning. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank, like they have so often this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be having another food pantry at the Agri-Civic Center for those who need it. Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin made the announcement during yesterday’s County Commissioners’ meeting and he says information for the food pantry will be made on social media as well as a special brand of the Everbridge System that his department used before. Franklin says this food pantry will begin at nine o’clock and there will be no vouchers or pre-registration necessary. Treasure Coast Food Bank officials are asking that you remain in your vehicle and clear your trunk space. If you’re sick, please stay home and have someone else pick up the food on your behalf.

Okeechobee County Commissioners got a report on the status of the Coronavirus in the county from Tiffany Collins of the local health department yesterday. Collins says five percent of the county’s population has tested positive for the virus and she says there is now a new app available for your smartphone that allows you to get your test results faster called Healthier Together Apps.

Collins says Okeechobee County has also gotten 640 rapid test kits which provide test results in 15 minutes. These tests will be used on those who are symptomatic close contacts. However, these rapid tests can also have a higher probability of false positives.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County increased yesterday by nine, but the number of fatalities remained steady. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,137 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities still number at 45. 2,123 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 are numbering at 218. 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 1,094,697 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,076,547 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 19,591 with 57,468 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight and four, Monday thru Thursday and eight to two on Friday. 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, you can direct them to the Okeechobee County 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:

30 year old Donald DeLayne Bush of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for obstructing law enforcement without violence. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

31 year old Joshua Tony Brookins of Okeechobee was arrested for battery by strangulation during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

48 year old Maria Mae Dusen of Okeechobee was arrested for second degree petit theft charges. Her bond is set at $750.00 dollars.

24 year old Teddy Manuel Grossman of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts apiece for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at $15,500.00 dollars. 29 year old James Albert White Junior of Plant City was arrested on a warrant from Hillsborough County for violating an injunction related to a previous domestic violence incident. He’s being held without bond.