Tuesday October 20, 2020

A news report reveals that twenty-seven students are learning from home after a student tested positive for COVID-19 at Osceola Middle School. The Okeechobee County School District said the student last appeared on campus on Friday, Oct. 9. The district notified students this past Thursday. Those impacted must stay home for two weeks. The district said crews sanitized any affected areas and continued to follow CDC guidelines by wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and checking the temperatures of anyone coming on campus. School leaders urged people to watch for symptoms that may develop within the next 14 days. Okeechobee county currently has 1,666 total cases and 37 deaths.

The Hendry County School Districts Covid-19 Dashboard shows 70 students currently quarantined districtwide, with 6 positive cases reported in students. Twenty-two staff members are currently quarantined in the district, with reports of 5 positive cases. Hendry County as a whole is up to 2160 positive cases in total. Statewide, the Florida Department of Health reported an additional 1,707 cases of the coronavirus on Monday, the lowest single-day rise in infections since Oct. 12. There were 54 additional deaths and 72 more hospitalizations in Monday’s report. The resident death toll stands at 16,021, and 201 non-residents have died.

The Florida Department of Health in Hendry County has issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory due to an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Hendry County. Brenda Barnes for Hendry and Glades Counties. (Soundbite) Two horses have tested positive for equine encephalitis virus and one horse has tested positive for the West Nile virus. The risk of transmission to humans has increased. Mosquito Control and the Hendry County Health Department continues surveillance and prevention efforts. 

Halloween is 11 days away. If trick-or-treating is allowed in your community, the Florida Department of Health has tips to ensure a safe and healthy Halloween. Here are just a few:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Make sure that shoes fit well to prevent tripping.
  • Look for “flame resistant” on the costume labels. 
  • Avoid any sharp or long swords, canes, or sticks as a costume accessory
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. 

If you’re not going trick or treating, you can still have fun!  Consider:

Carving or decorating pumpkins with family members and displaying them. 

Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations.

Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples.

Additional resources for a safe and healthy Halloween can be found on the websites for the American Academy of Pediatrics and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recently, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) received a nearly $5 million emergency grant to implement a Crisis Counseling Program to help Floridians respond to the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant, will provide crisis counseling services through Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines, assisting individuals in need of mental or behavioral health counseling and referrals.  This funding will expand the existing capacity of crisis counselors within twelve 2-1-1 providers, while promoting the availability of behavioral health services among vulnerable populations, including children and their caregivers, first responders and healthcare workers, and those grieving a loss. 2-1-1 providers will routinely connect individuals to resources, while conducting telephone counseling services and screening callers for indications of more long-term behavioral health needs.