News Cast 8/21

News Cast for August 21st:

We’re not only in the midst of Hurricane Season we’re approaching the critical point of it and there is another weather system that has caught the eye of Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials. The system known as Tropical Depression 13 has formed east of the Caribbean and while Okeechobee County is not under any weather watches or warnings at this time, they are monitoring it closely. At last check with the National Hurricane Center Advisory, Tropical Depression 13 is 505 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands. Maximum winds are at 35 mph moving WNW at around 21 miles per hour. Tropical Depression 13 is likely a tropical storm at some point today and could possibly be making landfall south of Miami as a Category 1 hurricane by early next week. Okeechobee County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says residents are advised to monitor the system and make sure you have your storm supply kit 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.

Go to www.ready.gov/kit for more information on preparing your storm supply kit. Continue to listen to WOKC for more information as it becomes available.

Last week, the Okeechobee County Health Department held another free COVID-19 testing site for anyone who wanted it and you didn’t need to be symptomatic. Unlike the previous time the County Health Department had free testing done, this one was a success as 188 people showed up over an hour and a half to be tested according to County Health Department officials. Okeechobee County Commissioner Kelly Owens was on record as saying that to make this free COVID testing site a success, it needed to be marketed better. With that, notifications of the testing site were shown on the county’s emergency management smartphone app and it was put on the county’s Everbridge system, to inform people of the free testing. Owens says while the better marketing of the testing site played a part in its success, it was also the fact it was held on a weekday night.

Owens says the county will be more active in getting the word out on future free COVID-19 testing periods. County Health Department officials say the next free testing at their site will take place likely sometime next month.

Okeechobee County has surpassed the eleven and a half hundred mark in positive COVID-19 cases and they’re not far from the twelve hundred mark. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,177 since March, with 12 fatalities. 1,173 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 38. 120 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 this morning, there are 588,602 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 582,407 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll has officially cracked the ten thousand mark as there are now 10,049 fatalities and 35,650 hospitalized.

Okeechobee County Commissioners renewed the local state of emergency for the county during their COVID-19 status meeting yesterday. The state of emergency went into effect today.

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:

44 year old Roy Lee Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

40 year old Francisco Lopez Vazquez of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a pre-trial release condition in connection with a previous domestic violence incident. He’s being held without bond.

30 year old Lorenzo Martinez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police on local warrants for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

24 year old Chantal Nicole Robinson of Fort Pierce was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.