COVID-19 cases increase in Big Lake area

As Florida continues the careful reopening of businesses that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Lake Okeechobee area cases continues to increase.

Area officials remind everyone of the importance of maintaining the recommended “social distance” of 6 feet between those who do not share the same household, and of wearing a cloth mask or bandanna over the nose and mouth when inside a public building or anywhere that you cannot maintain 6 feet of separation from other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that many people who have the virus and are contagious have no symptoms. The cloth masks are recommended to catch the droplets of moisture that leave the mouth and nose when you talk, cough or sneeze. Your mask helps to protect others from you if you are contagious. Their masks help protect you, should they be contagious.

As of the May 19 report from the Florida Department of Health:
• Okeechobee County had 45 positive test results out of 1,169 tests conducted since testing started earlier this year, for 3.8% positive. Since some people have been tested more than once — for example, all of the residents and staff at Okeechobee Health Care Facility (OHCF) have been tested at least twice — that does not mean 1,169 people have been tested. The positives include teenagers in two local juvenile detention facilities. The positive cases include 13 people in the 34974 ZIP code, 30 people in the 34972 ZIP code and one person who is not a Florida resident but was tested in Okeechobee. The 34972 ZIP code includes both of the juvenile facilities as well as OHCF. Six people have been hospitalized, including the non-resident. None of the 45 who tested positive has died. Those who tested positive range in age from 6 to 87.

• Glades County has a total of 13 positives out of 117 tested for an 11.1% positive rate. One person has died. Four people have been hospitalized. Those who tested positive range in age from 17 to 89. The three cases reported May 19 include a 44-year-old male from Crescent Acres, a 44-year-old male from Crescent Aces and a 69-year-old female from Buckhead Ridge. The rest of the positive cases reported earlier were in Moore Haven.

• Hendry County has 224 positives out of 1,252 tests for 17.9% positive. The Clewiston ZIP code area has more than 80 percent of the positive cases. Thirty-nine people have been hospitalized; 12 people have died. As of the May 17 FDOH Report on Long-term Care Facilities, Clewiston Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility had 18 current residents who are COVID-19 positive, 19 positive residents who had transferred from the facility to a hospital or other facility and 19 staff members who tested positive. Six residents of Clewiston Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation Center in LaBelle had seven current residents positive, four positive residents who have transferred and seven staff members who tested positive. Four residents of Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation Center have died.

Those who tested positive range in age from 0 to 101.

• Palm Beach County has 4,699 positive out of 53,645 tests for 8.8% positive. In Palm Beach County, 896 have been hospitalized and 284 have died. As of the May 19, FDOH report, the Belle Glade ZIP code are had 289 positive cases, the South Bay ZIP code area had 100 positive cases and the Pahokee ZIP code area had 96 positive. Glades Health Care Center in Pahokee has six residents currently positive, nine residents who have transferred and 23 staff members who tested positive. Those who tested positive range in age from 0 to 104.

For daily updates on COVID-19 virus cases online, go to floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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