People wanting a new food bank in Okeechobee County will have to wait, albeit not for long. County officials, including Mayor Dowling Watford, Sheriff Noel Stephen, Commissioner Terry Burroughs and officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank have decided to postpone the scheduled food bank for this week. However, county commissioners and county health department officials yesterday opened the door to have it for next week. Watford says concerns from the county health department about the risk for volunteers working the food bank and the number of them working it made them postpone it originally but they’ve since worked out issues with that and they’ve also addressed the traffic issue that plagued the last food bank (Watford-Food Bank 1). The scheduled food bank will be available for 750 cars and people will have to pre-register. A phone number and/or website for people to register will be released to the public soon. Watford says the food bank will likely be done at the Agri-Civic Center.
The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County is now at nine as of last evening. That is the fourth positive case of the virus reported in the county since last weekend. No information on the new case at this time. Most recently a 62 year old woman who is a staff member at the Okeechobee Health Care Facility tested positive on Tuesday. A 76 year old woman was reported on Saturday to have the virus and a 46 year old woman was reported to have it on Sunday. All of them are local residents. Thus far, seven of the nine people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 33 to 76 with the median age of the patients being 62. Okeechobee County Health Officer Tiffany Collins says people who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and are going through the routine contact tracing.
As of last evening, Martin County officials are reporting they have 166 cases of the Coronavirus with five fatalities, Hendry County has 59 cases now with two fatalities. Glades County has five cases with one fatality, Highlands County has 74 cases with seven fatalities, Osceola has 449 cases with seven fatalities and Palm Beach has 2,554 cases with 144 fatalities. There are now 29,648 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 28,843 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 987 with 4,640 people hospitalized.
All gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places where large gatherings can happen remain closed at this time. School campuses still remain closed now until the end of the school year as ordered by Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday 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.
All 4-H face to face events are cancelled until July 31st. This includes summer day camps. Record books are being created in a virtual format and are due on May 1st. Any questions can be forwarded to the extension office at (863) 763-6469.
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, the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital or at the Fred Brown Children’s Health Center. 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 to be tested, please call the county health department and they’ll let you know for sure. These testing sites are available on weekends.
Hendry County residents can be tested at the Clewiston Center on the three hundred block of W.C. Owen Avenue in Clewiston and now the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to be a collection site for COVID-19 testing. This will expand testing capabilities in Hendry and Glades Counties. Appointments can be made at the Clewiston Health Department on Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon at (863) 983-1408 and appointments can be made at the LaBelle Health Department on Fridays from 10 am to 12 noon at (863) 674-4041. Residents in both counties need to contact their healthcare provider for more information on the process.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is expanding its ongoing COVID-19 testing for residents in Glades communities. Since last month, the Health Care District has offered testing on a walk-up basis with no appointment outside the C.L. Brumback Primary Care Clinic at Lakeside Medical Center on the 39 thousand block of Hooker Highway in Belle Glade. Appointments are now necessary and you can do that by calling (561) 642-1000. Patients can access the drive-thru testing lane or you can park and walk up to the existing site. Individuals can be any age and don’t need to have symptoms to be registered and tested. Results will be sent by a Health Care District provider as soon as possible.
Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee 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 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 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.
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.
Hendry County officials are strongly advising residents to follow CDC guidelines, specifically the latest guideline to wear cloth face coverings while in public to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. These cloth masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured properly and allow for breathing. Please wash your hands before putting on the covering and before you remove it. These coverings should not be placed on children under the age of two.
Chalo Nitka Grounds on 10th Street in Moore Haven will be having a food pantry on Tuesday, April 28th beginning at 10 o’clock. When you get there, just pop open your trunk; you don’t even have to leave your vehicle. Other food pantries can be found by logging on to www.feedingflorida.org.
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:
30 year old Michael Lee Adams of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on three counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. His bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.
59 year old Michelle Leona King of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.
60 year old Penny Louise McDonald of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.
18 year old Kyle Buddy Sage of Okeechobee was arrested by police for electronically transmitting material considered harmful to minors. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.