Free COVID-19 testing available in Okeechobee on Saturday: Updated – testing is ‘walk up’

OKEECHOBEE — Five hundred and nine persons were tested at the mobile testing visit in Okeechobee on June 12 in Okeechobee according to the information reported June 18 at the Okeechobee County Commission meeting.

Tiffany Collins, of the Okeechobee County Health Department, said they are increasing testing in Okeechobee County to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Okeechobee County Health Department will provide free testing with no criteria required. There will be walk up testing from 7 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 20. No appointments will be necessary.

“We’re trying to find the virus, and isolate it so that we can slow the spread,” she said. “If you are sick, stay home. Make sure that you do your part to slow the flow.”

She said the public is encouraged to maintain 6 feet of social distancing with others and to wear cloth masks in public areas, especially in areas where they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others. Frequent, thorough hand washing is still important, she added, and everyone is encouraged to use hand sanitizer if they cannot wash their hands.

She said the mobile testing unit was in Okeechobee on Friday. The lab is owned and operated by StatLab Mobile based in Miami County. They report results directly into the FDOH database.

“We were able to determine that 509 individuals were tested at that mobile bus, but not all of the reports were reported to Okeechobee County,” she explained. She said some of the test results were incorrectly entered into the database as Miami-Dade County tests. They are working with FDOH to straighten out the test reports.

There were 58 positives that came out of the mobile bus that day, she explained. Three were not Okeechobee County residents. However, 34 of those positives were incorrectly added to Miami-Dade County list, she said.

She said there are a lot of questions and a lot of confusion about the data.

“Any tests that are conducted are calculated in total testing numbers until you get your first positive. Once you get your positive for the first time, no other test you are given is counted in the total numbers. There is no duplication in the number of positive cases,” Ms. Collins explained.

In recent days, Okeechobee County has seen an uptick in the number of cases and the percent who test positive, she explained.

She said Okeechobee County has 28.6% positivity rate for pediatric cases, the fifth highest rate int he state.

“We have had three newborns who have tested positive,” she said.

Ms. Collins said they have been testing more children because when a parent tests positive, they test all of the family members.

“It has come to our attention that people across the state are getting scam calls,” said Ms. Collins. The callers claim to be from the Department of Health and claim they need personal information before they will release test results.

She said the health department is working with the schools on the plans to reopen school in the fall.

Ms. Collins said in addition to the COVID-10 positive cases at the TrueCore facilities, there is one COVID-19 positive youth at the Level 10 facility.

She said many government offices, businesses, medical offices and the chamber of commerce are distributing free cloth masks provided by the FEMA. Okeechobee County received a shipment of 45,000 cloth masks and is scheduled to receive more.

“I would really recommend you use your mask when you are in buildings with close proximity to other people,” said County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs. “I would encourage you to get these masks, use the masks and use social distancing. I have been in a number of places where social distancing is a distant thought.”

He said some other counties are making it mandatory to wear a mask.

In other business, the recreation department announced a plan to reopen the public pool at the Okeechobee County Sports Complex for general use. The pool was already open for lap swimming.

The pool will limit entrance to no more than 50 people at one time, and screening questions will be asked before they are admitted. If there is more demand, they may limit pool time to three hours. Bathrooms will be open, but the showers inside the bathrooms will be closed. Staff will wear masks and gloves anywhere they cannot keep 6 feet of distance High touch points will be sanitized frequently.

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