News Cast 3/20

News Cast for March 20th:

An Okeechobee man is in serious condition following a vehicle accident early yesterday morning in Okeechobee County that claimed the life of a 58 year old Palm Bay woman. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 26 year old Zachary Voss was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck west on Route 70 just before 6:30 when the driver of an oncoming Chevy Impala, whose name has not been released pending family notification, crossed the center line and her car collided head on with Voss’s truck. The impact sent the Impala off the road, onto the grassy shoulder and stopped but not before the woman was ejected from the Impala. Voss’s truck rotated clockwise and ended up on its side. On-scene medics declared the Chevy Impala driver dead at the scene. Voss was taken to an area hospital for treatment. The cause of the accident has not been determined. The road was closed to traffic in both directions for a while during the cleanup.

Yesterday, for the fifth time in as many days, the Okeechobee County Emergency Management team and health department officials met with county commissioners to discuss the status of the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County. There are still no positive tests of the virus in the county. There are ten cases of people who have been tested for the virus and thus far, six of those tests have come back negative while there are four tests still yet to be determined. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says there were rumors going around that Governor Ron DeSantis was going to declare martial law in the state and quarantine people who have the virus for 14 days by way of using the US National Guard. Smeykal says however that is not the case .

Smeykal also reported that the Small Business Administration (SBA) passed the disaster declaration for Florida for those small business owners who can prove economic loss retroactive from January 31st . At last check, the closest areas to Okeechobee County that have cases of people who’ve tested positive are in Palm Beach, Martin and Osceola Counties.  The state as a whole has a total of 432 people who have tested positive for the virus and nine people have died from it. Okeechobee declared a local state of emergency (LSE) at their Wednesday meeting, joining 56 other Florida counties and they’ve declared a Level 2 activation which is added personnel at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line is now open and will be open from 8am to 6pm every Monday thru Saturday and possibly Sunday until further notice. This hotline will be manned by live personnel and callers can ask about county updates on the Coronavirus and what is being done. Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says this hotline will not address anything about the Coronavirus as it pertains to the virus itself or any medical questions . The 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 and essential. 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 hands, avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead.  Avoid places where there are 50 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.

The latest statistics show that there have been a reported 14 thousand 366 people testing positive for the people in the United States and 217 deaths reported nationwide.

Okeechobee County Emergency officials and county commissioners will meet again today for the sixth time to once again address the Coronavirus situation. It’s being held in the Historic County Courthouse and it begins at four o’clock.

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters last Friday afternoon. Crews were called to a landfill area on NE 128th Avenue a little after 5:30 and arrived to find a semi-tractor trailer where about a quarter of the vehicle was covered in flames. Firefighters say the driver of the trash trailer had already dumped out its load before catching fire. The vehicle’s tires were completely burned as were both sides of the rear of the trailer. Firefighters used about two thousand gallons of water to extinguish the blaze, which they accomplished in about 45 minutes. No one was hurt. Total damage to the trailer is estimated at around $25 thousand dollars. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

46 year old Rey Gomez of Okeechobee, a registered sex offender, was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to report his change of address. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

43 year old Anna Lourena Deel of Okeechobee was arrested for petty theft and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. Her bond is set at three thousand dollars.

20 year old Edgerrin James Billie of Okeechobee was arrested for obstructing law enforcement without violence. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.