News Cast 6/8

News Cast for June 8th:

With more testing being done County-wide, Okeechobee’s corona virus positive resulst continue to rise. As of Sunday morning’s latest results release from the Florida department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County is now  at 138. 137 of those 138 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. 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.

Also as of Sunday morning, Martin County has 907 positive cases of the Coronavirus with thirteen fatalities, Hendry County has 558 reported cases now with 18 fatalities, Glades County has 84 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County has 146 cases with nine fatalities, Osceola County has 745 positive cases with twentyone fatalities and Palm Beach has 7,230 cases with 372 fatalities. There are now 63,938  reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 62,416 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 2,700 with 10,942 people hospitalized.

With phase two beginning last Friday and Florida positive cases rising, including Okeechobee County, the Okeechobee Board of County Commissioners met last week to discuss where our county is now and how to move forward. County Chair Terry Burroughs told WOKC News that despite the rising numbers, the good news obviously is that Okeechobee has had no Covid-19 fatalities to this point.

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 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 library 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.

A week of peaceful protest over the tragic death of Minnesota resident George Floyd from excessive force from Minneapolis police on Memorial Day culminated on Sunday with a march that began on the east side of town and ended with a gathering in Flagler Park. The protests have been on going every evening since last Sunday and Okeechobee resident Amber Sewell says that it isn’t about acting once or twice, but to really cause change, people have to be consistent with their beliefs.

On May 30th, the Okeechobee High School (OHS) class of 2020 finally graduated in one of the most, if not the most, interesting and difficult times ever with the Coronavirus present. County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says overall the graduation went well, with screening stations set up at the Agri-Civic Center and the area patrolled by sheriff’s deputies. It was originally intended to be a graduating-students only ceremony but a recent ruling by Governor Ron DeSantis and a recent meeting with county commissioners allowed for some adjustment at just the right time to include more than just students.

More than four hundred twenty students graduated this year. Kenworthy says this was “hands down” his most difficult year ever in his career as an educator and administrator. Okeechobee was one of a few counties in Florida to have an in-person graduation ceremony.