News Cast 6/10

News Cast for June 10th:

The conduct policy for students in Okeechobee County Schools will soon be getting a special program added to it. At their meeting last night, Okeechobee County School Board members approved an amendment in the student conduct policy that will have a First Time Offenders Program. Assistant School Superintendent Dylan Tedders says the policy will apply to students who are caught with drugs or alcohol on school campuses for the first time. Under this new program, students would be suspended from school activities like sports and prom for 45 days while remaining at their host school and not disrupt their classes, as opposed to before when they would be sent to Okeechobee Achievement Academy (OAA) for the same offense. During that time, students will receive treatment and counseling at their host school.  Tedders, who has had experience in disciplining students, wishes this program was in effect before.

School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says a similar program was tried before but failed. He believes this time it will succeed because they have the staff needed for the counseling; something they didn’t have before.

The First Time Offenders Program will go into effect by the beginning of the new school year.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 in Okeechobee County has risen again. As of yesterday, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County has risen to 143. 142 of those 143 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 0 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 34. Twelve of the patients have been hospitalized. Thankfully there have been no fatalities. Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through the routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for now include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste.

Most neighboring counties also experienced a rise in their COVID-19 statistics. As of yesterday, Martin County has 934 positive cases of the Coronavirus with 15 fatalities, Hendry County has 572 reported cases now with 19 fatalities, Glades County has 86 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County remains at 150 cases with nine fatalities, Osceola County has 762 positive cases with twenty one fatalities and Palm Beach has 7,518 cases with 388 fatalities. There’s now an even 66,000 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 64,448 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 2,765 with 11,185 people hospitalized.

Along with the Wal-Mart parking lot on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7am to 9am each day, 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 Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm every Monday thru Friday.  This number, which also doubles as the phone number of the County Library 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 County Library phone number/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.

One area that people have always been concerned about is supermarket supply lines. During a recent meeting on the status of the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County, Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says the supply lines are running well, with the exception of paper goods (Franklin-Supermarket Supply Lines). Commissioners will meet with the county health department and emergency management officials tomorrow morning to discuss the status of COVID-19 in the county.

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:

44 year old Miguel Angel Ramirez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for lewd and lascivious behavior with someone under the age of 18. His bond is set at $26 thousand dollars.

22 year old Alyssa Kaylee Oliver of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. Her bond is set at $250 dollars.

53 year old Arthur Beigel of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of violating probation on undisclosed charges. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

29 year old River Robert Maupin of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

31 year old Kristi Michelle Butts of Okeechobee was arrested by police for battery and simple assault during a domestic dispute. Her bond has not been set.