OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County had 51 COVID-19 positive cases as of the May 21 report from the Florida Department of Health.
At the May 21 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, Tiffany Collins of the Okeechobee Health Department said the state is in what the governor is calling the first phase of reopening.
She said so far 1,367 people have been tested. She said that does not include the second round of testing for patients and staff from Okeechobee Health Care Facility (which were all negative). She said it also does not include the residents and staff of Grand Oaks who were tested by the state team. She added that all of those tests were also negative.
“I can assure you that DOH is being transparent in the information that is being published,” she said.
Ms. Collins said it is still important to continue to observe preventive measures of hand washing, using hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands, maintaining 6 feet of social distancing in public and wearing cloth face masks in public places.
She said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend cloth face masks for healthy persons who go into public places where they cannot maintain 6 feet of separation from others at all times.
Ms. Collins reminded parents that if their children will go into kindergarten or seventh grade this year, they should make arrangements for the required vaccinations and school physicals.
Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs asked why Okeechobee County still does not have testing available to anyone who wants to be tested. He noted the new drive-thru testing available in the Walmart parking lot is still limited to those who meet the criteria.
“Why are we not getting testing like all urban areas where anyone can drive through and get a test?” he asked. “I think you and I agreed that was necessary,” he told Ms. Collins.
Ms. Collins said she has asked the state to consider rural communities in their testing criteria. She said the state is contracting with a new lab in order to increase testing.
“I do continue to advocate and encourage wherever I can to test rural communities,” she said.
“My problem is every time I turn on the TV, I hear testing opportunities in other counties,” said Chairman Burroughs.
The FDOH state report, which lists positive results by county, as of May 20 includes:
• April 1: 41-year-old male (tested in Tampa but has permanent address in Okeechobee County);
• April 2: 33-year-old female;
• April 4: 74-year-old man (non-resident, does not have permanent address in Florida, was tested in Okeechobee County);
• April 6: 61-year-old female;
• April 7: 66-year-old female;
• April 17: 76-year-old female;
• April 19: 46-year-old female;
• April 21: 62-year-old female;
• April 23: 48-year-old female;