News Cast 7/7

News Cast for July 7th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will be meeting this evening (Tuesday, 7th) and they will be presenting a 20 year longevity service award to Marvin Roberts of the City Public Works Department. They will also be discussing the proposed fire protective services agreement between the city and the county and they’ll be having a final hearing on the proposed ordinance to allow package sales of alcoholic beverages at any time on Sunday. The meeting will begin at six o’clock and it’ll be held in City Hall. Seating is limited and the meeting can be viewed via Zoom. Please check with the City Administrator’s office for more information on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Sticking with the city council for a moment, during their last meeting, the council voted to approve the first reading of a proposed ordinance to re-zone a nearly three-acre sized area of SW 7th Avenue from a residential area to an industrial area to allow for a company called Loumax Development, Inc., an aerosol manufacturing company, to expand there. The vote passed four to one with Mayor Dowling Watford dissenting. Watford, who owns property near there, says it’s not ideal for an industry like this to be there in an area that should be zoned for residential needs. Watford says the other problem is if and when that industry leaves, another industry can set up shop right there.

Meanwhile, Neal Marcus, the owner of Loumax Development, is excited to be growing his business in Okeechobee and thought it was the ideal place for his business because it’s centrally located. The second reading of the ordinance will take place at the next city council meeting on July 7th and if approved, the ordinance will be made official

Speaking of the city council, during their last meeting, the councilmembers voted to approve the first reading of a proposed ordinance to re-zone a nearly three-acre sized area of SW 7th Avenue from a residential area to an industrial area to allow for a company called Loumax Development, Inc., an aerosol manufacturing company, to expand there. Neal Marcus, owner of Loumax Development, Inc., says it was the ideal place for expansion of his business because it’s centrally located which is what he needed. The vote to approve the first reading of the proposed ordinance passed by a vote of four to one, with Mayor Dowling Watford dissenting. Watford, who owns property near there, says it’s not ideal to have an industry like Marcus’s in an area that’s normally made for residents and it doesn’t make for good planning sense. The second reading of the ordinance will take place at the next city council meeting on July 7th and if approved, the ordinance will be made official.

Once again, for the third time in as many months, officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank paid a visit to Okeechobee County towards the end of last month for a food distribution bank. Mayor Dowling Watford says volunteers packed food into the trunks of six hundred vehicles between nine o’clock and eleven o’clock in the morning despite the extreme heat. Watford says officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank love coming to Okeechobee for this event and they especially love doing the event at the Agri-Civic Center because it’s the ideal place for it.

The Treasure Coast Food Distribution Bank was sponsored by the United Way. Watford says another food bank will be done soon and it’ll likely be done on a weekend.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County continues to escalate.  As of Monday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County is at 439. Four hundred thirty seven 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. 39 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.

There are now over 206,000 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; just over 203,000 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,778 with 16,045 people hospitalized.

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. Wal-Mart is no longer doing their drive-thru testing program as of now.

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.