News Cast 4/28

News Cast for April 28th:

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man and woman early Sunday morning in connection with a homicide. Sheriff’s investigators arrested 31 year old Derrick Levi Clay and 25 year old Cheyenne Mackenzie Smith after the body of 24 year old Tohermain Rosier was found shortly before 1:20 on the two hundred block of NE 14th Avenue. Investigators say Rosier was pronounced dead at the scene by Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue. Clay and Smith were arrested after an investigation into the matter. Clay was charged with one count of murder and Smith was charged with one count of accessory after the fact. They were booked into county jail and their bonds have not been set at this time. Sheriff’s officials say this is an active investigation and no further information is being released at this time. A memorial was set up along the road where Rosier’s body was found.

Okeechobee County Commissioners met yesterday with members of the County Emergency Management Center regarding the status of the Coronavirus and they reported a tenth positive case of the Coronavirus in the county. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says the Okeechobee Health Care Facility says nearly four hundred staff members and patients were tested for the virus over the weekend and the results of the tests are still being determined. Staff and patients there are given advanced personal protective equipment and advanced sanitation. Smeykal says while no one is exhibiting symptoms of the Coronavirus right now, it doesn’t mean there will not be any more positive tests.

Results of the tests administered at the Okeechobee Health Care Facility should be known before the end of the week.

The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County is at ten as of yesterday. No information on the two newest cases at this time. Thus far, eight of the ten people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 33 to 76 with the median age of the patients being 56. Okeechobee County Health Officer Tiffany Collins says people who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and are going through the routine contact tracing.

Between last evening into this morning, there has been no changes in the number of positive cases of the Coronavirus in several neighboring counties. Martin County still has 185 cases of the Coronavirus with five fatalities, Hendry County has 72 reported positive cases with two fatalities, the latest one being a 96 year old man from LaBelle. Their most recent cases are three men from Clewiston, one 16 year old Clewiston boy and a woman from LaBelle. There are now 32,846 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with of them 31,986 being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,171 with 5,222 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County residents looking to burn yard trash or create campfires or bonfires will have the chance to do that again. While it looked rather unusual during a meeting about the Coronavirus yesterday, commissioners discussed the idea of lifting the county wide burn ban with Fire Chief Ralph Franklin due to several residents voicing their opinion on the matter to the commissioners, asking that the ban be lifted. The measure was approved by a vote of three to two with Commissioners Kelly Owens and Terry Burroughs dissenting on the matter. Owens says Chief Franklin made it clear that the Division of Forestry, who recommended implementing the burn ban earlier this month, keep it in place and we should heed that recommendation (Owens-Burn Ban Lifted 1). The lifting of the burn ban will begin this morning and last until Thursday morning at which time commissioners will decide whether or not to re-implement the ban.

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 last week 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 will continue to work with task force members 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.

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.

On the arrest report:

45 year old Jason Scott Williams of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

59 year old Brian Jon Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

22 year old Dylan Taylor White of Jensen Beach was arrested for possession of a short barreled gun rifle. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.