News Cast 5/7

News Cast for May 7th:

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department officials are still investigating the apparent murder of a local man that took place a week ago early Sunday morning that led to the arrest of a local couple. Sheriff’s investigators arrested 31 year old Derrick Levi Clay and 25 year old Cheyenne MacKenzie Smith in the stabbing death of 24 year old Tohermain Rosier. Sheriff Noel Stephen says his department received a call shortly before 1:30 reporting a body lying on the road at the two hundred block of NE 14th Avenue. Investigators arrived and found Rosier’s body, which was highlighted by a 20 foot blood trail on the road. Stephen credits technology, but more importantly good detective work in securing an arrest.

Investigators say the murder was likely the result of a drug deal gone bad between Rosier and Clay. Clay was charged with one count of murder and he’s being held in county jail without bond. Smith was charged with accessory after the fact and she’s in county jail in lieu of a hundred thousand dollar bond. If you have any further information about this case, please contact the sheriff’s office as soon as possible.

Residents in Okeechobee County may soon be able to find other places where they can be tested for the Coronavirus. Following Governor Ron DeSantis’s press conference last Wednesday where COVID-19 testing might soon be available at pharmacies, County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin told county commissioners at their Thursday meeting that the county department of health is checking with local pharmacies on testing but none of them are doing that right now. Franklin however says all hope is not lost on that just yet.

Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs says if you go to your personal physician, a COVID-19 test can be ordered. Recently, 250 test kits have been ordered for the county and County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says once the county gets those test kits, they can be given to local physicians to use on their patients.

The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County remains at 18 as of last evening. The latest four cases include an 87 year old woman, a 46 year old man, six year old boy and a 17 year old boy. 17 of the 18 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 6 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 52. Five of the patients have been hospitalized. 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 routine contact tracing.

There are now 38,002 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 37,020 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 1,539 with 6,557 people hospitalized.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced state parks have reopened access to trails and some day-use areas as of Monday, 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 announced that it began re-opening several district managed lands Thursday 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 also re-opened Thursday morning 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.

Okeechobee County Commissioners will meet with county emergency management and county health department personnel this afternoon to discuss the status of the Coronavirus in the county. The meeting will be held in person and no more than ten people will be allowed in the meeting room, which will be at the Historic County Courthouse beginning at four o’clock. Those that attend are asked to follow social distancing rules of no less than six feet apart. The meeting will be broadcast live on the commissioners’ website.

A report of a vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Tuesday evening. Crews were called to the 53 hundred block of NW 30th Street shortly after 7:30 and arrived to a pickup truck burning in a field, a few hundred yards from the road. Crews got the fire controlled in just over an hour with no one getting hurt and they needed about five hundred gallons of water and a gallon of foam to extinguish the blaze. The fire did significant damage to the truck, totaling about twelve thousand dollars in both property and contents. It’s under investigation.

On the arrest report:

22 year old Devinn Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription after a traffic stop. His bond has not been set.

34 year old Christopher Charles Miller of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, the controlled substances oxycodone and morphine without prescriptions, tampering with evidence and obstructing with violence following a traffic stop. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

40 year old Catrela Denise Stallworth of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drunk driving charges. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

37 year old Jennifer Lea Riddle of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.