Free COVID-19 testing in Okeechobee County on Friday

Posted 6/11/20

OKEECHOBEE — Free COVID-19 testing for anyone who wishes to be tested will be available Friday, June 12, in City Hall Park on State Road 70 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by the governor’s mobile response …

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Free COVID-19 testing in Okeechobee County on Friday

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OKEECHOBEE — Free COVID-19 testing for anyone who wishes to be tested will be available Friday, June 12, in City Hall Park on State Road 70 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by the governor’s mobile response bus. No appointment is required. Testing is open to everyone, even those with no symptoms.

At the June 11 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, Tiffany Collins of the Okeechobee County Health Department said Okeechobee County has been seeing some spikes in COVID-19 positive cases since Memorial Day.

“We are looking to expand testing,” she explained. “We appreciate we don’t have the dense population the urban counties have,” she continued, but the rural communities also do not have the resources for testing available in the more populated areas.

“Chair Terry Burroughs was able to get us the mobile rapid testing bus,” she said. Ms. Collins said the city has agreed to let them use the park next to City Hall on State Road 70.

The testing bus will be in City Hall Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 12, Ms. Collins said. It takes just 45 minutes to get your results.

The test is free. Those who are asymptomatic are welcome to be tested. The mobile unit can do up to 500 tests in one day.

“I know 500 doesn’t seem a lot,” with a population of over 40,000, said Ms. Collins. She encouraged Okeechobee County residents to make sure they use the full 500 tests allocated for Friday to show the Florida Department of Health that there is a demand for COVID-19 testing in Okeechobee County.

“Please come out tomorrow,” she said.

For those who cannot make it to the test site on Friday, the Okeechobee County Health Department will provide free testing with no criteria required. There will be drive-thru testing from 7 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 20. Participants will stay in their vehicles. No appointments will be necessary.

Ms. Collins said Okeechobee County has received shipments of cloth masks from the state. Some masks have already been distributed to local farms.

“We will get total of 90,000 masks for the Okeechobee community,” she said. Many of these will be distributed through local businesses, churches and organizations.

Anyone who would like masks to distribute may call Todd Hardacre at 863-462-5805.

She said the health department will publish a list of places the free masks will be distributed.

Ms. Collins said to date, 16 people from Okeechobee County have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Currently, Raulerson Hospital has six patients who are COVID-19 positive, she explained.

Okeechobee County has no deaths related to the virus — it is one of only eight counties in the state with no COVID-19 deaths.

Ms. Collins said 77 Okeechobee County residents have been tested for coronavirus antibodies; only two persons tested positive.

The positive cases range in age from 0-87. “There was a newborn diagnosed with COVID-19,” she said.

“We do have outbreaks in agriculture communities,” she continued. Landscaping, citrus and dairy industries have seen outbreaks. “If you are in a congregate setting, you are more at risk for COVID-19.”

Ms. Collins said senior citizens and those with underlying health issues should avoid large crowds. Everyone should continue frequent and thorough hand washing.

“Wear your cloth masks when you are out in public,” she advised. “Clean frequently touched areas often.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, as of June 11, 154 people in Okeechobee County had tested positive for COVID-19. According to FDOH, 2,259 tests have been conducted, which means the county has a positive rate of 6.8%.

coronavirus, covid-19, featured, testing

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