News Cast 9/28

News Cast for September 28th:

The state of Florida has been in and out of Phase 2 as it pertains to closures and restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic for months but now Florida has finally turned the corner into the next phase. On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state is now entering Phase 3 of Florida’s Re-Opening. This means that all restaurants, hotels, bars, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys and other facilities can operate at full capacity, but with limited social distancing. DeSantis says counties that want to restrict capacity to between half and full capacity must justify their reasons to do so to the state and identify the costs associated with it. DeSantis reasons that, specifically in the area of restaurants, it’s a difficult industry to succeed in and waiting around for a vaccine and then waiting some more, is not viable. This is also to recognize their efforts during this difficult time.

DeSantis made this decision following a Zoom meeting with scientists and other experts on the matter. In restaurants, laminated menus need to be cleaned after each use and paper menus must be thrown out after each use.

This past Wednesday evening, a large number of people, wearing purple t-shirts and calling themselves “T’s Army,” made their way to the front of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department but they weren’t there for any kind of warfare; this was a celebration. T in this case stands for Trisha, as in Trisha Diddle. Trisha Diddle is a ten year old Okeechobee girl who had her tenth birthday on September 23rd but unfortunately she couldn’t there. Diddle is receiving treatment for burns she sustained in a fire at her home on July 25th that claimed the life of her grandmother, Lydia “Mimi” Entry, who died with her granddaughter safe in her arms. The fifty to a hundred or so of “T’s Army” gathered for a picture and a singing of “Happy Birthday” to send to her. The event was put together by Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Corporal Jack Nash and he says this is a great example of the community coming together for one of their own.

Joe Entry, Lydia’s husband, says his wife died a hero and he gave thanks to the other heroes in this story.

Trisha Diddle is being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and family members say she is getting better each day.

Okeechobee County’s COVID-19 case numbers as of Friday morning have increased once again and unfortunately so did the number of fatalities. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, there are 1,521 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities rose by one, making it a total of 25. 1,518 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to one hundred with the median age of the patients now at an even forty. 167 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. Overall, as of Friday morning, there are 695,887 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 687,656 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll stands at 13,915 and there have been 43,299 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, otherwise please bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations. 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 or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

26 year old Hayley Rene Price of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for grand theft and burglary. Her bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.

46 year old Anna Marie Hoover of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief and trespassing on private property. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

41 year old Jeremiah Faughn Rhoden of Okeechobee was arrested on second degree petit theft charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

36 year old John Ashford Hair of Okeechobee was arrested for making false statements to law enforcement. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

30 year old Marshall Logan Coker of Okeechobee was arrested by police for possession of methamphetamine, a controlled substance without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.

22 year old Joshua Jon Madrigal of Okeechobee was arrested on multiple warrants for battery and aggravated battery. His bond is set at $57,500.00 dollars.

38 year old Michael Lee Harden of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and molestation to a victim under the age of 18. His bond is set at fifty thousand dollars.