Okeechobee has 104 COVID-19 positive cases

OKEECHOBEE – While the state starts the second phase of the governor’s reopening plan on Friday, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations are still in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“The CDC does still recommend to wear your cloth mask when you are out in public,” said Tiffany Collins of the Okeechobee County Health Department, in her report at the June 4 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners.

Social distancing is still encouraging. The state has advised everyone to avoid congregating in groups of 50 or more people. All persons who work in longterm care facilities should be tested for COVID-19 on a routine basis.

Hand hygiene still important, she said. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly. Continue to wear cloth masks when you are in public. Continue to disinfect frequently touched areas.

She said the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is sending cloth masks to agricultural counties. Okeechobee County has been allocated a shipment of 45,000 cloth masks.

As of the June 4 FDOH report, Okeechobee County has 104 COVID-19 positive cases.

Okeechobee County has no deaths related to COVID-19, and is one of only nine counties in the state with no deaths.

To date, 1,910 individuals have been tested. Ms. Collins said that includes two testings of the nursing home residents and staff.

Ms. Collins said it is important to continue to use preventive measures because COVID-19 is a dangerous virus. For example, she said the common flu has a death rate of about 0.11% of those infected. So far the death rate for COVID-19 in the United States is 5.7%.

Ms. Collins said FDOH has not released information on the number of people who have recovered from the virus.

“The Department of Health is not in the business of reporting arbitrary numbers of recovery,” she said. “That is between the patient and their medical provider.”

It can happen quickly, or it can take a very long time for a person to shed the virus, she explained.

She said none of the Okeechobee County cases have died. She said information has been released about when each positive case was reported.

“We’re looking at the health care system as a measure of how well we are doing,” she said. “We’re looking at hospitalizations as a measure of how sick people are.”

FDOH is now reporting antibody test results with weekly updates. As of the May 19 report, 60 people in Okeechobee County have been tested and two tested positive for antibodies.

“If you are interested in getting an antibody test, wait one to three weeks after you believe you have been exposed,” said Ms. Collins. “If you think you are sick, get a virus test.”

The antibody tests check for the antibody in your blood, but it could be from any of the coronavirus family, she explained. “It does not mean you are immune to COVID-19. It does not mean you cannot be reinfected with COVID-19.”

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