News Cast 8/12

News Cast for August 12th:

The Okeechobee County Commissioners held theirs last month and now the Okeechobee City Council will be meeting tonight in a special session to begin hearings on their budget for the 2020 through 2021 fiscal year. The meeting will be held in City Hall at a special time, five o’clock tonight. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be shown through the Zoom application. Please contact the City Administrator’s office for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is this coming October but one Okeechobee County resident is not wasting any time with a special request. Okeechobee native and breast cancer survivor, Kantrel Smith, made a request to the Okeechobee County Commissioners during their last meeting to hold a couple of events in October and waive the fees in order to bring awareness to the disease and to remember those survivors and those whose lives have been lost to the disease. Smith says there will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Banquet on October 3rd at the Douglas Brown Community Center and a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on October 10th beginning at Veteran’s Park. Smith says these events are so important to anyone who has had or is going through the disease. Smith, who was diagnosed last year, says the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk will be held during the Health Expo and there will be opportunities for women to have mammograms and other testing. For more information, please contact Kantrel Smith at (786) 267-5743.

It only took about 15 minutes from start to finish but the Okeechobee County Commissioners met this past Thursday afternoon with the County Emergency Management team and County Health Department on the status of the Coronavirus. Some good news, according to Okeechobee County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal, is the statewide downward trend of emergency room visits and hospital stays from not only COVID-19 but also from influenza. Okeechobee’s numbers, though, have gone up and that’s because we’re one of the last counties to have a positive case and so we’re playing catch up so to speak. Unfortunately, Smeykal says those numbers don’t tell us how many people have symptoms of the Coronavirus and those who don’t have symptoms.

Smeykal did say that overall, our numbers will always look better than other counties because we’re not as densely populated as others like Miami/Dade and Broward Counties. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin also spoke at the meeting and he says they’re still monitoring the situation and he reported that every fire rescue squad member that had COVID-19 is back at work. Commissioners will once again meet tomorrow to discuss the status of the virus in the county during their regular meeting. They also renewed the local state of emergency.

Okeechobee County is knocking on the door of the eleven 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 1,077 since March, with 12 fatalities. 1,073 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. An even one hundred 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 a reported 542,792 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and 536,981 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 8,553 with 31,354 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.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Eric Tyrone Kelly of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of the controlled substance MDMA without a prescription. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

34 year old Michael James Snipes of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and fleeing and eluding law enforcement after an attempted traffic stop. His bond is set at ten 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.

37 year old Jacquelyne Marie Miller of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

49 year old Ronald Michael Smith of Okeechobee was arrested by police for violation of an injunction from a previous domestic incident. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.