News Cast 3/23

News Cast for March 23rd:

With the Coronavirus raging on, Okeechobee County Commissioners met with emergency management officials in an emergency meeting this past Friday afternoon. There are still no positive tests of the virus in the county. There are seventeen cases of people who have been tested for the virus and thus far, fourteen of those tests have come back negative while there are three tests are still yet to be determined. The focus of Friday’s meeting shifted to the amount of supplies in supermarkets. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says while some people are still hoarding food, they really don’t need to be.

In fact, according to Commissioner Brad Goodbread, food store shelves should be packed faster thanks to the Florida Department of Transportation’s relaxed hours of service for food trucks.

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. As of Friday, there are 520 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state with 474 of those being FL residents and the death toll is now at ten. 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). All gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places where large gatherings can happen are closed. School campuses remain closed until April 15th but online classes will begin on March 30th. Restaurants are doing take-out orders and delivery only and bars, pubs and nightclubs are closed.

The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line is now open and will be open from 8am to 5pm every Monday thru Saturday 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. The hotline will not address questions about the virus itself or 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.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the virus at the County Health Department or at the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital. You cannot get tested for the virus at Lab Corp or Quest Diagnostics.

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 or the Center for Disease Control at

County commissioners and emergency management officials are set to meet again at four o’clock today in the Historic County Courthouse. The meeting will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

While March is fast becoming a month people want to forget with the Coronavirus running wild, there is some good to behold with this month and it’s the Red Cross. March was officially named American Red Cross Month in Okeechobee County as commissioners approved the proclamation at their last meeting. John and Peggy DuBose, longtime Red Cross volunteers, were on hand to accept the proclamation and they want people to realize the importance of what they do in responding to fire calls and helping people get back on their feet after a tragedy such as a lost home from fire or other disaster.

John DuBose says that came into play during a recent fire call. Peggy DuBose, a Red Cross volunteer for fifty years, says there is a big need for volunteers now with the number of fire calls recently.

The Red Cross was established in the late 1800’s by Clara Barton.

On the arrest report:

53 year old Robert Lee Walton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court during his hearing on undisclosed past charges. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

21 year old Janavise Latrell Futch of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

45 year old Michael Edward Marshall Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old James Michael Kendall of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

71 year old Jim Leon Yates of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past undisclosed charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

24 year old Tyler Wayne Nicholson of Fort Meade was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and knowingly driving on a revoked license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.