As the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the communities around Lake Okeechobee continues to grow, there are some areas of special concern.
In Okeechobee County, 22 cases — about a third of the cases in the county, now — are related to correctional institutions, including juvenile facilities and the state prison as well as corrections officers who live in Okeechobee County but work at a prison in another county.
In Hendry County, a cluster of about 60 positive cases is related to one employer and 69 cases are related to long-term care facilities.
In western Palm Beach County, the state prison in South Bay has 147 inmates and 51 staff members who tested positive.
Around the lake, as of the May 26 report from the Florida Department of Health:
• Okeechobee County has 67 positive cases, ranging in age from 6 to 87, with no deaths and seven hospitalizations. Total people tested: 1,561. The positive rate is 4.3%.
• Glades County has 24 positive cases, ranging in age from 3 to 89. One person has died related to COVID-19. Four have been hospitalized. One hundred and seventy people have been tested in Glades County, which has a positive rate of 14.1%. Most of the cases are in Moore Haven, with one case reported in Buckhead Ridge.
• Hendry County has 337 positive cases, ranging in age from 0 to 101. In Hendry County, 2,085 persons have been tested, and the county has a 16.2% positive rate. Twelve people have died, with 11 of the deaths related to long-term care facilities; 44 of those who tested positive have been hospitalized. The ZIP code 33440, which includes Clewiston, Harlem, Montura, Pioneer Plantation and the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, has 275 positive cases. In neighboring Collier County, the rural town of Immokalee, which is just 30 miles south of LaBelle, has 409 positive cases.
• In Palm Beach County, 5,429 people have tested positive, 315 have died and 1,081 have been hospitalized. Those who tested positive range in age from 0 to 104. The county has tested 67,132 people and has a positive rate of 8.l%. The 33430 ZIP code, which includes Belle Glade and parts of South Bay, has 358 cases. The 33493 ZIP code, which covers most of South Bay, has 153 cases. ZIP code 33476, which includes Pahokee and Canal Point, has 120 cases.