News Cast 12/4

News Cast for December 4th:

On November 16th, the city of Okeechobee held a special ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the official opening of Centennial Park. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says people will now get to see this park come to fruition with its coverage shelters, playground, bathrooms, solar phone chargers and pavilions, a park that city residents really needed and wanted to see. De Oca says it took roughly about seven years to create with the help of not only the Leadership Class, but also the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). There will also be Wi-fi capabilities put into the park and De Oca, an engineer, says he’s going to work with other engineers to duplicate this beyond Okeechobee.

De Oca says working with the DEP allowed for grants of up to four hundred thousand dollars’ worth of improvements to the park. The park is located on the seven hundred block of SE 6th Avenue.

Okeechobee County Commissioners had their weekly meeting on the status of the Coronavirus in the county yesterday and they got a visit from Dr. J. Michael Adelberg, the medical director for the Okeechobee County and City Fire Departments and the All County Medical Ambulance Service. Dr. Adelberg says it “seems intuitive” that social distancing to a certain extent, wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently makes a lot of sense and we need to keep doing that to help slow the spread of the virus. However, closing businesses, akin to “shutting down the country” as he put it, is not the answer as it led to hundreds of thousands being put out of work and ruining people’s lives and that wasn’t the worst of it. Dr. Adelberg continued by discussing the status of the vaccine and said anyone who wants one or needs one should get one when they become available, but we won’t know for months how effective it will be. Commissioners also extended the local state of emergency for another week, beginning today.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County once again increased yesterday while the number of fatalities remained steady. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,068 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, with that figure rising by seven and the number of fatalities remained at 44. 2,055 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 212 as that figure also remained steady. 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 1,029,030 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,012,456 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 18,874 with 55,820 people hospitalized. Florida recently joined Texas and California as the only states with at least a million confirmed COVID-19 cases since March. 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, 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. The local health department offers COVID-19 testing every Monday thru Friday for first responders and for those who have symptoms. 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:

45 year old Angel Lynn Barnett of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for charges of forgery. She’s being held without bond.

48 year old Maria Mae Dusen of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

41 year old Frederick Charles Holocek of Okeechobee was arrested on a Martin County warrant for failing to appear in court to answer for charges of driving on a suspended license. His bond has not been set.

50 year old Willard Heath Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and tampering with evidence. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

22 year old Joshua Jon Madrigal of Okeechobee was arrested on a local capias warrant for domestic battery by strangulation. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

34 year old Samantha Lynn Young of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. Her bond has not been set.

25 year old Austin Spencer Adams of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery stemming from a domestic incident. His bond is set at $250.00 dollars.

47 year old Gerald Donald McCanns of Okeechobee was arrested on a Glades County warrant for violating probation on previous grand theft charges. He was released after posting a $75 hundred dollar bond.