News Cast for July 30th:
We are in the heart of Hurricane Season and with that officials from the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Department say they are currently monitoring some low-pressure weather activity in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico. While Okeechobee County is not under any weather watches or warnings right now, this system could develop into a possible tropical storm by the weekend and Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says it’s a good idea to see if your storm supply kit is ready. Smeykal says there should be enough food and water for each person and pets in your group, not to mention medication, flashlights and batteries to last for at least five days.
It’s also advisable to secure any loose items outside your home as the heavy winds can send them flying. You can visit www.ready.gov/kit for more information on making your storm supply kit. Listen to WOKC for any major updates on this weather system.
One constant during this COVID-19 pandemic over these last few months is the presence of the Treasure Coast Food Bank holding a food distribution event here in Okeechobee County and this month was no different. On July 18th, officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank came back for the second time this month and held a food distribution bank at the Agri-Civic Center. Mayor Dowling Watford says it was another great success, with nearly three hundred vehicles being served with needed food. Watford says it’s been a success over these last few months because the Treasure Coast Food Bank always loves coming here because between fire and rescue and law enforcement, everything is so well organized and they love having it at the Agri-Civic Center.
Another food bank is coming up and it’s scheduled to take place on August 14th at the Coquina Water District. There is also another one planned for some time in September.
Okeechobee County has just a few more positive COVID-19 cases to report but unfortunately there is another fatality to add to the list. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is now at 858 but there are now three fatalities. 854 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 36. 78 county residents have been hospitalized. Okeechobee County Health Department spokesperson Tiffany Collins says those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Collins says the health department will continue to focus on contact tracing investigations of those that are hospitalized with the virus and they will be doing what she calls “texting monitoring” (Collins-Texting Monitoring). 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.
Also as of yesterday morning, there are 451,423 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state since March and 446,251 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 6,333 with 25,499 people hospitalized.
Okeechobee County Commissioners will meet once again this afternoon with Emergency Management and the County Health Department on the status of the Coronavirus in the county. The meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at four o’clock. Seating is limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be broadcast live on the commissioners’ website.
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.
On the arrest report:
45 year old Tonya Ann Bogard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on battery charges. Her bond has not been set.
30 year old Garry John Rogers Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.
21 year old Sergio Juarez of Zolfo Springs was arrested on warrants from Hardee County for past charges of drunk driving and underage possession of alcohol. He was released after posting bonds totaling a thousand dollars.