Wednesday July 29, 2020

School will be restarting soon around the lake. Parents, teachers and other residents have reservations about sending their children to school campuses for legitimate concern of the coronavirus numbers rising in our communities. To date, 906 kids under 18 have reportedly been tested in Hendry according to the pediatric report. 172 have tested positive since testing began. Currently, the DOH is not providing a recovery number so that people may monitor the current number of positive cases; so these numbers are in total. In Palm Beach County, over 15,000 kids have been tested, and less than 2200 have tested positive. In Glades County, 71 kids were tested, 16 reported positive results. These facts and figures are not meant to influence, coerce or alarm, but only to inform. A link to these figures reported by the DOH can be found here and the information in this link is updated daily. These figures change rapidly. Please, do your research and make the best decision to accommodate your family situation. 

The Hendry County School Board met last night. Dr. Wilhemina Lewis, CEO of Florida Community Health Centers, was present to discuss the school reopening plan and COVID-19. There was a lot discussed at lasts nights nearly 2-and-a-half-hour meeting. Some of the highlights include Dr. Lewis cautioning against the schools reopening too soon, the superintendent echoing this reluctance, because quote people don’t wear their face masks properly. she says, forget airborne transmission, consider the fact that 30,000 cough droplets from an infected person travels 20 feet, and 40,000 sneeze droplets travel even further than that. And not to mention asymptomatic people still carry a significant threat to others. Dr. Wilhemina said FCHC has done13,000 tests at a 24% positivity rate. She says she’d like to see a decrease in the positivity rate and the cases before reopening schools. It’d be a shame, she says to have to close school again, so soon after opening. 

There was a lot of unpacking at last night’s Hendry County School Board Meeting. Superintendent Paul Puletti expressed his reluctance to reopen too soon for not only the safety of the staff and students, but for his own personal safety as well. Especially since positive cases of COVID-19 were discovered at Clewiston High School just this past Sunday, as well as positive cases at Eastside Elementary. The principals of those schools are the married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez, respectively.  Mr. Puletti was cautioned by medical professionals that contracting the virus could easily be deadly for him, as he is high risk due to a prior medical condition. As it stands, about 40 % of parents have elected to return to campuses, and the other 60% have opted for distance learning or virtual school almost half and half. The board discussed perhaps pushing the school start time back again, but as of now, schools are still set to re-open August 17, with a mandatory 90-day mask mandate for anyone entering campuses effective immediately. 

As of Tuesday July 28, 2020, the DOH reports Hendry County has 1589 positive cases of COVID-19 since testing began in march. This includes the anti-body testing as well. 34 deaths have been reported, as well as 139 hospitalizations overall. 389 cases have been reported out of Glades County with 3 deaths and 25 hospitalizations. Dr. Joseph Pepe, health administrator for Hendry and Glades County says our numbers have been influenced by being sandwiched between other counties like Palm Beach and Lee. He also admits, though that there have been issues with labs reporting only positives results and not all results. That error was not significant enough, however, to affect overall reported numbers. Florida had another record-breaking number of deaths, an astounding 186 people, breaking the previous record. 

The first election following the presidential primary for Palm Beach County took place during COVID-19 without any problems for the City of Belle Glade. Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, oversaw the June 2nd elections to ensure all voters and poll workers were able to cast a ballot safely. During the election, 12.56 percent of Belle Glade’s eligible voters cast ballots, 61 percent of whom voted in person on Election Day. The ability of every voter to exercise their right to vote safely is Supervisor Link’s top priority.  The June 2nd election proceeded with new safety procedures put in place. These procedures include personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and social distancing guidelines for voting stations and voting lines. The Belle Glade elections went on with no issue. The new voting equipment, worked to improve the voter experience and speed up the tabulation process with data encryption to protect voter information. The smooth process allowed voters to vote safely and stay healthy while at the polls.

A Belle Glade man is proof that a new outfit can give a person a boost of confidence. William Freeman just accepted a supervisor position after recovering from a year of struggles. He credits his recent success to a nonprofit in Palm Beach County after receiving two new business suits ahead of his interview. Freeman calls the gift a valuable lesson about helping those less fortunate during challenging times. “You can give a child $5 to feed him for that day, but if you put him in a suit and dress him up then he can feed himself for a life time,” said William Freeman. ‘Suits for Seniors’ is based in Riviera Beach and was established in 2016 as a high school mentorship program. The 8-week program also covers financial literacy, leadership, entrepreneurship college preparation, and job readiness training. The organization expanded its outreach to include job seekers who may need additional support during the pandemic. Over the last four years, more than 1,000 students have graduated successfully through the program. For more information about the organization, click here.

Hendry County Candidate Forums will take place virtually beginning tomorrow, July 30, hosted by the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce, and will be live on the Chambers Facebook page. Hendry County sheriff will kick off the first virtual show in the morning  at 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. After that, the Hendry County judges forum will be at 11 a.m., followed by the  the Hendry County Commission District 1 candidates at 1:30 p.m., and then the District 2 meet-up at 3 p.m. All of these candidate forums will be shared live on Facebook. For those who need to, the videos will be available for viewing later, as well. Anyone who would like to submit a question for any of the candidates participating in the forum can post in the Facebook link listed on our website, or send an email to clewistonchamber@embarqmail.com. Be sure to specify which candidates you are directing your question toward.

• The Hendry Sheriff Candidate Facebook Live forum link:
facebook.com/events/s/hendry-county-sheriff-candidat/2660867194183660/?ti=icl
• The Hendry Judge Candidate Facebook Live forum link:
facebook.com/events/s/hendry-county-judge-candidate-/2721764448105033/?ti=icl
• Hendry County Commission District 1 Facebook Live forum:
facebook.com/events/s/hendry-county-commission-distr/767295534026338/?ti=icl
• Hendry County Commission District 4 Facebook Live forum:
facebook.com/events/s/hendry-county-district-4-candi/3220362778021214/?ti=icl