News Cast 8/25

News Cast for August 25th:

It may only be the second week of the new school year in Okeechobee County, but already the COVID-19 pandemic is making its presence felt. County School officials have reported that 56 students from Okeechobee High School (OHS) and South Elementary School have been taken out of their respective schools and will be quarantined at home for the next 14 days. Assistant School Superintendent Dylan Tedders says those students, 32 from OHS and 24 from South Elementary, will be doing online learning from home until they are cleared to physically return to school. Tedders says school officials were checking seating charts, class rosters and more to identify those who might have been in close contact with someone, either a teacher or student, who tested positive for the virus. Tedders says despite the large numbers of students who had to stay home for the next two weeks, the majority of students are excited to be back and they’re not allowing this to dampen their back to school spirit.

OHS principal Lauren Myers says she and other school officials say that to take students’ minds off of the virus and what it’s done so far to the school, seniors did their “camo day” event last Friday, something that would normally be done in the spring if it hadn’t been for COVID-19.

School officials are reminding students that if you believe you have been exposed or you have symptoms and get tested, please stay home.

The main campus of Indian River State College (IRSC) will be the site of a very special event, not to mention a very momentous event, in the school’s history today as it will be renamed in honor of the school’s outgoing president, Dr. Edwin Massey. Massey announced recently that he will be retiring at the end of the month to spend more quality time with Jo, his wife of 54 years, and their three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Massey says he has “loved every minute” of his job as IRSC president, which he has been for 32 years, and he “had a lot of fun” at it. Massey says his greatest accomplishment in his years as president interestingly came about when he spoke with a Norwegian industrial psychologist one day about getting more out of his students. Massey says this psychologist told him not to push people, but create a work environment to where they can do their best work and create a culture that allows the students to be more engaged; something he’s worked at for the last twenty years (Massey 1). Massey, a native of Laurel, MS and schooled to be a marine biologist, took a teaching job at IRSC in 1973 before being asked to take on the role as Director of Public Safety. Other jobs followed, including head of Adult and Continuing Education before becoming IRSC’s third president in 1988. The ceremony to rename the school’s main campus in Massey’s name will begin at five o’clock and it’s located on the 32 hundred block of Virginia Avenue in Fort Pierce.

Okeechobee County has surpassed the twelve hundred mark in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and we unfortunately had another fatality over this weekend. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,202 since March, now with 13 fatalities. 1,198 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. 122 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 602,829 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 596,511 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is now at 10,397 along with 36,596 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:

64 year old Michael Allen Ward of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

20 year old Vivianna Gore-Martinez of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

27 year old Charles Henry Hullett of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

25 year old Cristian Ignacio-Santos of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting law enforcement officers. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Charles Anthony Robert Bloom of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court on past petit theft charges. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Freddy Lee Mott the Third of Okeechobee was arrested for robbery by sudden snatching. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

29 year old Ashley Nicole Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

31 year old Justin Brown Chism of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft of a firearm. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

21 year old Victor Gaona of Okeechobee was arrested by police for possession of the drug Legend without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. His bond has not been set.