News Cast 5/12

News Cast for May 12th:

The Okeechobee County School Board will be meeting tonight in the final meeting of the school year. School Board members will look to pass a proclamation declaring this month as Mental Health Awareness Month and they will also consider a quote from 2nd Gear for the purchase of 165 laptop computers and batteries. Due to COVID-19, the meeting will be held beginning at six o’clock via video teleconferencing through the Zoom application. To view the meeting, log on to zoom.us and the meeting ID number is 914 5213 7717. The password is 2z1gni. The virtual meeting will be held in room 303 of the school board administration office and it’s open to a limited number of people. Any further questions can be addressed to the school board office.

Wal-Mart is the site for great shopping for virtually anything you need and soon it’ll be for something more important. This coming Friday, the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Okeechobee County on South Parrott Avenue will be the site of a drive-thru testing for the Coronavirus. Mayor Dowling Watford says this is “good news” for the city and county of Okeechobee and the testing center will be supported by not just Wal-Mart but also by Quest Diagnostics and state and local officials and they’ll test adults under CDC guidelines, including first responders, health care providers and others who have COVID-19 symptoms and those in a high risk group without symptoms. Watford says the drive-thru testing site will only be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7am to 9am each day due to availability of the pharmacists doing the tests.

Watford hopes the success of this drive-thru testing site will make it possible for added hours at the site and test those without symptoms. If you’d like to be tested you must first make an appointment through Quest by logging on to www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com.

The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County is at 28 as of last evening. 27 of the 28 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 6 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 45. Five of the patients have been hospitalized. County Health Officer Tiffany Collins says people who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, Collins says other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for now include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of the sense of smell or sense of taste.

Martin County has 274 positive cases of the Coronavirus with six fatalities, Hendry County has 159 reported positive cases now with six fatalities.  Glades County received their seventh positive case Friday with one fatality, Highlands County has 99 cases with eight fatalities, Palm Beach has 4,093 cases. There are now 41,923 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 40,804 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,779 with 7,418 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.

Central Elementary School in Okeechobee County will be active today but it won’t be because students are there, it’ll be law enforcement. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Central Elementary School will be the site for some law enforcement training mainly focusing on those who will be assigned to the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in the event of an active shooter at our schools and doing the training at this venue keeps the officers’ minds in a good place to properly train. Stephen says this will do more than just sharpen skills of the officers assigned to SRO duty.

The training begins at 7:30 and concludes at 5:30 this afternoon. Stephen says the officers will be conducting the training both inside and outside the school.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Jack Billie of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for public intoxication and causing a disturbance. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

37 year old Bruce Edward Bass of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

31 year old Jennifer Nicole Shaddon of Okeechobee was arrested on several counts of petit theft. Her bond has not been set.

39 year old Jason Michael Oyong of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for possession of cannabis. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

34 year old Brandi Nicole Langley of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

57 year old Donnie Gore of Okeechobee was arrested on a Glades County warrant for violating probation on past sexual misconduct charges. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Donald Wayne Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

38 year old Jovon Travias Sholtz of West Palm Beach was arrested for child abuse without great bodily harm. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.