Friday, April 10th News

Kevin Kenny filling in for Nicole Reid.

No change when it comes to the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County. The county still has five positive cases of the virus, with the most recent case coming in on Tuesday. That makes three women and two men who have tested positive for the Coronavirus since last week. Four of them are Okeechobee residents. The ages range from 33 to 74 with the median age of the patients being 61. Okeechobee County Health Officer Tiffany Collins says people who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. 165 people in the county have been tested thus far, with 160 of those tests turning up negative.

As of now, Martin County officials are reporting they have 109 positive cases of the Coronavirus with one fatality, Hendry County has 13 cases, Glades County has four cases with one fatality, Highlands County has 46 cases with four fatalities, Osceola has 295 cases with five fatalities and Palm Beach has 1333 cases with 75 fatalities. There are now 16,826 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 16,323 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll is now at 371 with 2298 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County Commissioners held their regular meeting and their emergency meeting on the status of the Coronavirus in the county yesterday. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says despite the hoarding of food and other supplies at local supermarkets, the supply chain is still running smoothly and there’s no need to panic. Franklin says to buy what you need but he says that can be a kind of double-edged sword (Franklin-Commissioners’ Emergency Meeting). Commissioners unanimously approved the renewing of the local state of emergency in the county during their meeting yesterday and at their meeting on Tuesday night, Okeechobee City Councilmembers also renewed the local state of emergency in the city.

With the renewal of the local state of emergency for the city, City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca was granted the power of extending time deadlines on city building permits and zoning applications that normally would have a time frame. De Oca says it will be done in a case by case fashion and it allows for more flexibility in these situations (De Oca-New Administrative Powers 1). De Oca says however, this does not allow him to make changes to zoning regulations.

All gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places where large gatherings can happen remain closed. School campuses remain closed until May 1st at the earliest with online classes continuing. Some restaurants are doing take-out orders and delivery only. To get an idea of what restaurants or other businesses are open or closed, please log on to our website at www.wokc.com. All bars, pubs and nightclubs are also still closed until further notice.

Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials say that all outdoor county parks and recreation facilities and fields have posted signs advising people to avoid any mass gatherings. These areas include all playing fields, picnic areas, pavilions and bathrooms. 

As a reminder, the Okeechobee County Public Library, Parks and Recreation Rental Facilities, Swimming Pool, Agri-Civic Center and the Darrell Enfinger Sports Complex are closed to the public.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has closed public access to some district lands to protect public safety such as Kissimmee River Public Use Area, which covers Okeechobee, Highlands, Glades, Osceola and Polk Counties. Also closed is Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area in Highlands County. You can check with the water management’s website at www.sfwmd.gov regarding other closings.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the virus at the County Health Department or at the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital or at the Fred Brown Children’s Health Center. Although, they may be moving their testing site so you’ll need to call to find out. You must meet certain criteria before you can be tested and you need to make an appointment. If you’re not sure if you fit the criteria, please call the county health department and they’ll let you know for sure. People can visit and be tested at these locations on weekends.

Raulerson Hospital remains on lockdown and they are not allowing any visitors to patients at this time.

The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm every Monday thru Friday.  This hotline will be 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 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. With today being a holiday, the call center is closed. It will reopen on Monday. The county health department will be open this weekend.

For Hendry County residents, you can log on to www.preparehendry.com for information on what’s being done and check out Hendry County’s Emergency Management Facebook page.

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:

32 year old Laura Anne Grace Zamora of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for cocaine possession. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

28 year old Ivone Alonso of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. Her bond has not been set.

35 year old Eliceo Moises Mendoza of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

25 year old Vonkeva Cleo Wells of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

31 year old Freddie Lee Mott the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of the controlled substance fentanyl without a prescription and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.