News Cast 4/29

News Cast for April 29th:

For the second time this week, Okeechobee County will have a place for people to receive food. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank are working with county and city officials to open a food bank this morning 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 eligible to receive 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 this morning and conclude sometime between 11 o’clock and noon. There was a food pantry open last Monday, thanks to United Against Poverty, at Our Village.

A positive test to a staff member of the Coronavirus at a local health care facility got the attention of the state this past Friday. Okeechobee County Health Department officials say members of Governor Ron DeSantis’s medical staff came down to Okeechobee Health Care Facility and began testing all the staff members and residents after news broke of a staff member testing positive. Spokesperson Jennifer Williamson says that staff member has since been tested two more times and both tests came back as negative. Needless to say, Williamson and others at the facility were quite happy the state’s medical team came to help. A total of 394 staff members and residents were tested and the state’s chief nurse taught the facility’s staff how to administer the test.

The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County remains at ten as of last evening. 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.

Glades County has six cases with one fatality. There are now 32,846 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 33,193 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,218 with 5,419 people hospitalized.

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 has been working with task force members this week to decide on the best course of action for the possible re-opening of the state and commerce.  A decision on that re-opening strategy may come later today.

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.

Hendry County officials are strongly advising residents to follow CDC guidelines, specifically the latest guideline to wear cloth face coverings while in public to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. These cloth masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured properly and allow for breathing. Please wash your hands before putting on the covering and before you remove it. These coverings should not be placed on children under the age of two.

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.

A 75 year old Fort Pierce man is dead following a vehicle accident Monday afternoon in St. Lucie County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, whose name cannot be released due to Marsy’s Law, was driving a sedan southbound on Route 1 through the intersection at Indrio Road in Fort Pierce shortly before 4:30 when another vehicle, a sports utility vehicle driven by a 17 year old Fort Pierce boy, drove into the path of the 75 year old man’s vehicle, causing a head on collision. The 75 year old man was airlifted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce for treatment. Medics later declared him deceased. The 17 year old boy received only minor injuries and was treated at the scene. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Esteban Medrano Arellano of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

29 year old Brittany Rachelle Drawdy of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

46 year old Edward Presley Barsh Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a local warrant for domestic battery charges. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.