News Cast 9/30

Officials from the Okeechobee County Department of Health (DOH) say they will have a free, walk-up asymptomatic COVID-19 testing period at their headquarters this evening. The testing will be either an oral or a nasal swab and the testing should take less than a minute and results are expected within a couple of days. You don’t need insurance but please bring photo identification. The testing site will be at the local DOH headquarters at 1728 NW 9th Avenue beginning at 5:30 and it will conclude at seven o’clock.

While today is the last day of the month of September, it’s also important to remember that September is also Suicide Awareness Month and it should not be forgotten as we head into October. Earlier this month, officials from New Horizons of the Treasure Coast and the 211 Helpline Services were in attendance at the Okeechobee County Commissioners’ meeting to proclaim September as Suicide Awareness Month in the county. It’s a time to help those who are suicidal or encourage them to seek help or help those thinking about suicide and spread the word about preventing suicide. New Horizons Acting CEO Pat Austin was on hand to accept the proclamation and she says it’s about speaking up and offering support and she talked about a recent initiative that New Horizons was a part of recently called Zero Suicide, a part care and part research program and she says the findings were quite profound.

While one hundred percent preventable, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages ten thru 34 and the tenth overall leading cause of death in the country with 47 thousand lives lost from it.

Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials say there will be mosquito control spraying efforts in the northeast and southeast areas of the county tonight, weather permitting. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says there will be spraying of adulticide, an insecticide designed to attack adult mosquitos and control their breeding. Smeykal says adulticide is approved and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but it’s probably best to stay indoors while the spraying is going on. If you do go outside, wear long sleeves, use a mosquito repellent with the DEET chemical in it and make sure your pets are prepared.

Smeykal says it’s best to remove standing water in water bowls, birdbaths and plants and keep your grass cut short. Another good idea is keeping your gutters clean and fix screens. If your area has an excessive number of mosquitoes, please call Clarke Environmental at 1-800-203-6485. Any further questions can be directed to the Emergency Management Center at (863) 763-3212. Spraying begins at ten o’clock tonight and will continue through the early morning hours of tomorrow.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday morning has risen again but thankfully the number of fatalities has not. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County now has 1,566 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are holding steady at 27. 1,563 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to an even one hundred with the median age of the patients now at forty. 172 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 yesterday morning, the state now has 704,568 positive COVID-19 cases since March. 696,171 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is now at 14,143 and there have been 43,855 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 floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

On the arrest report:

34 year old William David Nolan of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on battery charges. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

25 year old Rodney William Phelps of Okeechobee was arrested for breach of peace. His bond is set at $150.00 dollars.

39 year old Renee Trevino of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court after failing to appear to answer for a previous charge of driving on a suspended license. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

32 year old Carlos De Jesus Chavez of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Jody Elizabeth English of Port St. Lucie was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.