News Cast 6/17

News Cast for June 17th:

A Labelle man was arrested early Monday morning in the shooting death of a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officer on Sunday. Officers in the Major Crimes Unit of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department arrested and charged 20 year old Eliceo Hernandez with Negligent Homicide in the death of 30 year old FWC Officer Julian Keen, Junior Sunday morning. Keen, who was off duty at the time, was fatally shot while helping out during a hit and run incident near Apache Circle on Nobles Road in Labelle. Major Crimes Unit officers arrested Hernandez following an investigation. Keen, known as a “hometown hero” in Labelle, was a source of inspiration to many in the community, including Jonathan Conyers, a corrections officer with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department.

There will be a vigil tonight for Keen at Barron Park in Labelle. Hernandez is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on a $500 thousand dollar bond. The case is still under investigation.

Yesterday, for the first time in nearly three months, the Seminole Brighton Casino opened its doors to the public. The casino was shut down in mid-March after the Coronavirus shut down many businesses and casino officials made the decision on Friday to re-open yesterday. The turnout for the re-opening of the casino has been tremendous with the parking lots full and the table games and slot machines being very busy from the time the casino re-opened at noon. Seminole Brighton Casino General Manager Marty Johns says once he and his team got the word that the casino was to re-open this week, they wasted no time in getting the casino ready.

Marketing executive Michael Warren says as much as this re-opening means to guests, it means just as much to the casino employees.

Guests must wear masks and the casino is open at its normal hours, 24/7.

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 rose to 195. 193 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 0 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 33. 18 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. Okeechobee County Commissioners renewed the local state of emergency for another week during their Thursday meeting.

Most neighboring counties also experienced a rather dramatic rise in their COVID-19 statistics. As of yesterday, Martin County has 1,296 positive cases of the Coronavirus with 18 fatalities, Hendry County has 659 reported cases now with twenty fatalities, Glades County has 118 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County is at 192 cases with nine fatalities, Osceola County has 866 positive cases with twenty one fatalities and Palm Beach has 9,262 cases with 428 fatalities. There’s now 80,109 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 78,128 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 2,993 with 12,206 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.

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:

19 year old Anthony Alexander Rivera of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for discharging a firearm from a vehicle, aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, openly carrying a firearm, and removing the serial number from the firearm. His bond is set at $87 thousand five hundred dollars.

33 year old Charles Anthony Robert Bloom of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of petit theft. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

34 year old Tanya Leigh Law of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court following her arraignment on past charges of possessing drug paraphernalia. Her bond has not been set.

19 year old Adan Magana Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of petit theft. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.