News Cast for May 11th:
If you have sorely needed that haircut or that manicure, your wait is finally over. Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Friday afternoon that personal service businesses like cosmetology salons, barber shops and nail salons will reopen today after nearly a month and a half of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this reopening, owners of these salons must adhere to guidelines such as only accepting customers by appointment only, work areas and waiting areas must be sanitized regularly and all employees must wear facemasks and gloves when dealing with customers. Angie Griffin, owner of Stafford Salon in Okeechobee, says she is “super excited” that she can reopen her business today after this long layoff. Griffin, who told county commissioners “this is crap” over her frustration that her business and others like it would not be allowed to reopen under DeSantis’s Phase One Reopening policy earlier, says when she heard her salon can now reopen, she didn’t believe it at first.
Commissioner Terry Burroughs says this announcement accomplished the objective that he and his fellow commissioners set out to accomplish when they sent a proclamation to the state asking for Okeechobee County businesses to reopen. Whether state officials considered the proclamation or not, reopening these businesses was sorely needed.
This announcement applies to all counties under Phase One of DeSantis’s plan to reopen Florida.
As of Friday evening, Martin County has 243 positive cases of the Coronavirus with six fatalities, Hendry County has 133 reported positive cases now with five fatalities. Glades County received their seventh positive case Friday with one fatality, Highlands County has 93 cases with eight fatalities, Osceola County has 554 cases with 12 fatalities and Palm Beach has 3,615 cases with 229 fatalities. There are now 39,199 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 38,172 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,669 with 6,929 people hospitalized.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced state parks have reopened access to trails and some day-use areas last week, including some beach access with limited facilities. People must practice proper social distancing and limit group size to no more than ten people and stay six feet apart. More information can be found by logging on to www.floridastateparks.com.
Officials from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have re-opened several district managed lands for active recreation only. In re-opening them, the Water Management District officials say they will continue to follow recommendations from Governor DeSantis and others to minimize activities that result in large gatherings. Active recreational activities like hiking, biking, boating and fishing are allowed. Passive activities like picnicking, camping and gatherings of more than ten people are not permitted. For more information on re-opened District areas, log on to their website at SFWMD.gov/recreation.
Select Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) managed lands in South Florida have also re-opened with limited public use. Log on to www.myfwc.com for more information.
To get an idea of what restaurants or other businesses are open or closed in Okeechobee County, please log on to our website at www.wokc.com.
Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the Coronavirus at the Okeechobee County Health Department, the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital or by contacting Florida Community Health Centers at (863) 763-7481. 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.
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.
Last week was National Hurricane Preparedness Week and making sure your home is strengthened to withstand a hurricane is of great importance. Mitch Smeykal of the Okeechobee Emergency Management Center says your garage door is the most vulnerable part of your home and once that goes, the rest of your home will surely be next. Smeykal says to replace your garage door once every ten years or use a retro fit kit which is a bracing system for the garage door (Smeykal-Home Strengthening 1). Smeykal says while using plywood and aluminum is a good solution for boarding up your windows, poly plastic and some fabrics work just as well and they are not as difficult to put up on your windows. Remember, Hurricane season begins June 1st.
On the arrest report:
39 year old Daniel Lamar Tindall Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on two counts of grand theft, one of them grand theft auto. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.
35 year old Dustin Lee Werk of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.
31 year old Shane Michael Mester of South Bend, Indiana, was arrested for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at $250 dollars.