News Cast for April 27th:
There are now 10 positive cases of Coronavirus in Okeechobee County. There are now 32,138 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 31,290 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,088 with 5,010 people hospitalized.
Okeechobee County had no food banks last week but that will change this week. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank are working with county and city officials to open a food bank this Wednesday at the Agri-Civic Center. Mayor Dowling Watford says this particular food bank will be unique in that it will be by voucher only to select people in the community. People will receive a robo-call telling them that they are selected to receive food from this food bank. Watford says people who get this robo-call will be those in need of food from this food bank.
Volunteers from Christ Fellowship will be on hand to help pack vehicles with food and it’s open to only 750 vehicles. It will begin at nine o’clock Wednesday morning and conclude sometime between 11 o’clock and noon. There will also be a food pantry open today, thanks to United Against Poverty. It will take place at Our Village located on the 17 hundred block of SW 2nd Avenue beginning at 10 o’clock.
All gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places where large gatherings can happen remain closed at this time. School campuses still remain closed now until the end of the school year as ordered by Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday with online classes continuing. Some restaurants are doing take-out orders and delivery only. To get an idea of what restaurants or other businesses are open or closed, please log on to our website at www.wokc.com. All bars, pubs and nightclubs are also still closed until further notice. Governor DeSantis has been working with members of different task forces during the weekend and will continue to work with them this week to decide on the best course of action for the possible re-opening of the state and commerce.
All 4-H face to face events are cancelled until July 31st. This includes summer day camps. Record books are being created in a virtual format and are due on May 1st. Any questions can be forwarded to the extension office at (863) 763-6469.
Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials say that all outdoor county parks and recreation facilities and fields have posted signs advising people to avoid any mass gatherings. These areas include all playing fields, picnic areas, pavilions and bathrooms.
As a reminder, the Okeechobee County Public Library, Parks and Recreation Rental Facilities, Swimming Pool, Agri-Civic Center and the Darrell Enfinger Sports Complex are closed to the public.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has closed public access to some district lands to protect public safety such as Kissimmee River Public Use Area, which covers Okeechobee, Highlands, Glades, Osceola and Polk Counties. Also closed is Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area in Highlands County. You can check with the water management’s website at www.sfwmd.gov regarding other closings.
Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the virus at the County Health Department, the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital or at the Fred Brown Children’s Health Center. You must meet certain criteria before you can be tested and you need to make an appointment. If you’re not sure if you fit the criteria to be tested, please call the county health department and they’ll let you know for sure. These testing sites are available on weekends.
Hendry County residents can be tested at the Clewiston Center on the three hundred block of W.C. Owen Avenue in Clewiston and now the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to be a collection site for COVID-19 testing. This will expand testing capabilities in Hendry and Glades Counties. Appointments can be made at the Clewiston Health Department on Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon at (863) 983-1408 and appointments can be made at the LaBelle Health Department on Fridays from 10 am to 12 noon at (863) 674-4041. Residents in both counties need to contact their healthcare provider for more information on the process.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is expanding its ongoing COVID-19 testing for residents in Glades communities. Since last month, the Health Care District has offered testing on a walk-up basis with no appointment outside the C.L. Brumback Primary Care Clinic at Lakeside Medical Center on the 39 thousand block of Hooker Highway in Belle Glade. Appointments are now necessary and you can do that by calling (561) 642-1000. Patients can access the drive-thru testing lane or you can park and walk up to the existing site. Individuals can be any age and don’t need to have symptoms to be registered and tested. Results will be sent by a Health Care District provider as soon as possible.
Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee remains on lockdown and they are not allowing any visitors to patients at this time.
The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm every Monday thru Friday. This hotline is 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.
For Hendry County residents, you can log on to www.preparehendry.com for information on what’s being done and check out Hendry County’s Emergency Management Facebook page.
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.
Okeechobee County Commissioners will be meeting once again this afternoon with County Emergency Management and County Health Department officials regarding the status of the Coronavirus. But unlike recent meetings, which have been conducted via videoconferencing, this meeting will be in person. In keeping with the social distancing guidelines, there will be no more than ten people in the room during the meeting and people must be no less than six feet away from each other. The meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at four o’clock. It will also be streamed live on the county website.
While we may be in the last few days of April, it’s still the month to recognize the need to conserve water. April has been officially recognized as Water Conservation Month. Libby Pigman of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) says this is the time to conserve water as April is considered the driest month of the year and most of the water used in businesses and homes comes from ground water sources called Aquafors. Pigman says one way to better conserve water is being more cognizant of how you irrigate your yard, in other words not using sprinklers when it’s not necessary (Water Conservation Month 1). Any questions about water conservation can be directed to the SFWMD.
On the arrest report:
44 year old David Scott Cook of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest. His bond has not been set.
41 year old Neal Lee Minton of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond has not been set.
34 year old Jack Owen Albritton of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting an officer with violence, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and escape during an incident when officers were trying to serve an arrest warrant against him. His bond is set at twenty thousand dollars.