News Cast 6/25

News Cast for June 25th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will meet this morning and they will be presenting county employees with service awards and looking to possibly authorize the sale of a certain area of road near the Agri-Civic Center to be sold to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Commissioners will also get their weekly briefing on the status of the Coronavirus in the county. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse and it’ll be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time and he’s facing charges of two homicides in connection with two separate vehicle accidents he was involved in this month. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies served an arrest warrant for 28 year old Daylon Sam Youngblood Tuesday afternoon following a vehicle accident June 20th when the pickup truck he was driving crossed the center line of SR-710 near SE 52nd Street and collided with another oncoming pickup truck, killing the driver, a 20 year old Okeechobee man and seriously injuring a 24 year old woman and one year old girl. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Youngblood was also to blame for an accident on June 1st that claimed the life of a 46 year old Okeechobee man on SR-70 near Mesquita Creek. Youngblood was reportedly driving drunk in both incidents. Interestingly, the topic of serious and fatal accidents on 710 and 70 was brought up during a town hall meeting last night at Douglas Brown Community Center. Stephen says it’s a matter of people being in too much of a hurry to get someplace.

Youngblood was seriously injured in the June 20th accident and was treated at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Ft. Pierce before being taken into custody. His bond is set at five million dollars.

The regular meeting won’t be all for the county commissioners to discuss today. They, along with the Okeechobee City Council, will also be discussing the interlocal agreement for fire services in a workshop tonight. The issue of the city fire department possibly merging with the county fire department to help the city save money and better balance their budget has been ongoing for months, the issue seemingly being bounced between both the city council and county commission like a never-ending “tennis match.” Commissioner Terry Burroughs says he hopes this workshop, which was preceded by meetings the recently formed task force had on the matter, will put an end to the back and forth and also halt some of the talk that’s been going on via social media on the issue. The workshop will begin at six o’clock this evening and it’ll be held in the Historic County Courthouse. Public is invited to attend but seating is limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Once again, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County has risen significantly. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County rose to 276. 274 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. 24 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 include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste.

Most neighboring counties also once again experienced a rise in their COVID-19 statistics. As of yesterday morning, Martin County has 1,639 positive cases of the Coronavirus with 22 fatalities, Hendry County has 796 reported cases now with 24 fatalities, Glades County is at 143 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County is at 270 cases with ten fatalities, Osceola County has 1,222 positive cases with 24 fatalities and Palm Beach has 11,536 cases with 482 fatalities. There are now 109,014 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 106,743 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,281 with 13,574 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 now every Tuesday thru Saturday. 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.

We’re in the thick of the summer and with the days getting warmer and more humid, that’ll mean more mosquitoes, possibly the kinds that carry disease. Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials are announcing that mosquito control efforts will begin tonight, weather permitting, in the northwest, northeast, southeast and southwest ends of the county. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says there will be spraying of areas where mosquitoes are running rampant. Smeykal says this treatment will be performed by officials from Illinois-based Clarke Environmental, an environmentally friendly company.

Weather permitting, the spraying will be done tonight and tomorrow night beginning at ten o’clock each time and continue until five o’clock each following morning. Keep your pets and pet food bowls indoors at night and keep your grass cut short. If you go outside, wear long sleeves and use a mosquito repellent with the DEET chemical in it. If you see your area with an excessive number of mosquitoes flying around, please call Clarke Environmental at 1-800-203-6485.

On the arrest report:

34 year old Jack Owen Albritton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on two counts of violating probation on past charges of trafficking stolen property. He’s being held without bond.

28 year old Angelo Romon Gomez of Okeechobee was arrested on Palm Beach County warrants for fraud and attempted grand theft. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

37 year old Brent James Havens of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Roykeria Sheletha Wiley of Okeechobee was arrested on Palm Beach County warrants for first degree murder with a firearm and armed burglary. She’s being held without bond.