News Cast 12/14

A rather bizarre incident that’s now under investigation took place at Okeechobee High School this past Friday and it was recorded and put on social media before going viral. Okeechobee County School District officials say the video shows a staff member apparently zip-tying a student to a chair in a classroom. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the video was shared to the school board by a family member of the student, prompting the school board to notify the Department of Children and Families, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies. Kenworthy says it’s a mystery as to what the motivation was by the staff member but students were being interviewed about it all day Friday to get a clearer picture .

While the investigation is ongoing, Kenworthy says it may look like an error in judgment on the part of the staff member who has since been reassigned to another department. This staff member, whose name was not released, has not been arrested by law enforcement. The victim, a male student, was directed to the district’s mental health department for any needed counseling.

On the subject of the COVID-19 in Okeechobee County, the number of positive cases of the virus as of Friday unfortunately rose by ten but fatalities thankfully remained the same once again. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,147 recorded positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are still numbering at 45. 2,133 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. 219 county residents have been hospitalized as that figure also rose by one. Okeechobee County Health Department spokesperson Tiffany Collins says 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 Friday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 1,106,396 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,087,956 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 19,714 with 57,728 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 every Monday thru Thursday and eight to two on Fridays. 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, or just 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 floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

On the arrest report:

51 year old Stephen Scott Cone of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for charges of second degree petit theft and other offenses. His bond has not been set.

33 year old Andy Ray Yates of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

28 year old Pardell Keyon Rembert of Okeechobee was arrested on a capias warrant on charges of murder without premeditation. He’s being held without bond.