News Cast 7/31

News Cast for July 31st:

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Okeechobee County Commissioners will be having an emergency meeting this morning to discuss and adopt a resolution declaring a local state of emergency in connection to the growing danger of Tropical Storm Isaias. County officials continue to monitor the situation, even though Okeechobee County is not under any weather watches or warnings right now. At last check, the storm is located off the SW coast of the Dominican Republic. Please have your storm kits ready just in case and it should have 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 as well as soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes since we’re in the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting will begin at 8:30 in the Historic County Courthouse and it’ll be streamed live on the commissioners’ website. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines.

Okeechobee County Commissioners held their weekly meeting on the status of the Coronavirus in the county yesterday and Okeechobee County Health Department spokesperson Tiffany Collins has posed the question to commissioners: how can we get everyone in the county to heed the prevention measures and keep the numbers from rising? Collins says the message hasn’t changed; always stay six feet away and wear a mask, but people are apparently not heeding those measures as the numbers of positive cases continue to rise and hospitalizations continue to rise. Collins did say though that county business owners are heeding the warnings.

Collins also mentioned that the numbers continue to rise even with the expanding of testing efforts. Commissioner Kelly Owens says she was disappointed to see that a recent free testing site in the county that was meant for five hundred people only received half of that. Owens suggested better marketing might help.

Collins says she will be asking the state for more help in free testing. The county recently lost out on a mobile testing unit for a thousand people due to an issue with the testing site. Commissioners renewed the local state of emergency for another week.

Okeechobee County is knocking on the door of the nine hundred mark in positive COVID-19 cases. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is now at 878 with two fatalities and not three as was previously reported. 874 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. 80 county residents have been hospitalized. 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.

Also as of yesterday morning, there are 461,379 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state since March and 456,105 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 6,586 with 26,017 people hospitalized.

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.

This past Monday evening at around 5:30, Hendry County deputies responded to the area of US Highway 27 and Old 27 in Clewiston for a traffic crash with injuries that resulted in an arrest. Deputies say one of the drivers had a suspended license and an active warrant against him out of Martin County.  29-year-old Lavoski Butler of Pahokee was advised of the warrant and taken into custody.  Butler was being treated for what appeared to be minor injuries at a local emergency room when he attempted to flee from law enforcement custody according to a sheriff’s department spokesperson. However, his efforts were unsuccessful. Butler was arrested on the out-of-county warrant, resisting arrest without violence and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. According to a press release, Butler is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail with no bond.

On the arrest report:

26 year old Jaime Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on twenty counts of possession of sexual photos of children and electronic transferring of the photos. His bond is set at $105 thousand dollars.

35 year old Orlando Perez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license for the second time following a traffic stop. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

29 year old Ashley Nicole Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

27 year old Courtney Marie Adams of Okeechobee was arrested by police for loitering. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

53 year old John Allen Leggio of Lake Placid was arrested by Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) for drunk driving and possession of heroin. His bond is set at just over $27 hundred dollars.