News Cast 7/2

News Cast for July 2nd:

As a reminder, WOKC & Radio Fiesta 106.1FM will be closed in observance of 4th of July.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for the cancellation of a lot of things over the last few months, it’s also cancelled a lot of July 4th events including fireworks displays in some places. However, Okeechobee County will have a fireworks display this Independence Day. Thanks to the Okeechobee Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), there will be a fireworks display at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center Saturday evening. J.D. Mixon, the President of the FOP Associates Lodge says he and his fellow FOP member, Lt. Michael Hazellief of the Sheriff’s Department, have put together this fireworks display to celebrate the freedoms we have and it’s absolutely free. Mixon says to keep up with the social distancing guidelines, attendees are being asked to park their vehicles ten feet apart, which he says should be relatively easy considering the venue for the event.

Gates to the Agri-Civic Center will open at 7:30 and the fireworks display will begin at nine o’clock.  The show will tie to music and broadcast on WOKC. Unfortunately, the festivities that usually accompany the fireworks display will not take place due to the pandemic.

Now for some bad news, if you’re planning on checking out some beaches in Martin County, forget about it. Officials from Martin County’s Emergency Management office and the County Administrator passed down an emergency declaration saying all Martin County beaches will be closed this July 4th weekend beginning this evening to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Martin County Commission Spokesperson Martha Ann Kniess says with the recent number of people from other counties, specifically Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach coming to Martin County’s beaches lately, it was necessary to pass down this declaration (Kniess 1). Martin County beaches are expected to close beginning at six o’clock tonight and re-open on Monday beginning at seven o’clock in the morning. People found at the beaches while they’re closed risk being charged with a misdemeanor.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County is inching ever so close to the four-century mark. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County rose to 383. 381 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 93 with the median age of the patients being 34. 32 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 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 experienced increases in their COVID-19 statistics. As of yesterday morning, Martin County has 2,112 positive cases of the Coronavirus with 25 fatalities, Hendry County has 980 reported cases now with 25 fatalities, Glades County is at 164 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County is at 365 cases with 11 fatalities, Osceola County has 2,164 positive cases with 25 fatalities and Palm Beach has 14,447 cases with 512 fatalities. There are now 158,997 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 156,288 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,550 with 14,825 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 CVS Pharmacy in Okeechobee, 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.

Okeechobee County Commissioners will once again be meeting with Emergency Management and County Health Department officials this afternoon to discuss the status of the Coronavirus in the county. The meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at four o’clock and it will be streamed live on the county commissioners’ website.

On the arrest report:

23 year old Tiffany Renee Jackson of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court during her arraignment hearing on past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

41 year old Breanne Regina Lackey of Okeechobee was arrested for giving false information to law enforcement regarding a missing person. She was released after posting a bond of just over two thousand dollars.

28 year old David O’Brien Phillips of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

51 year old James Rufus Vanover of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

30 year old Rachel Marie Herndon of Okeechobee was arrested for a misdemeanor traffic violation and leaving the scene of an accident with damage to property. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.