Letter to the Editor from Steve Rolling

Sorry, but cases (and deaths) here from “2019 novel coronavirus” aka “2019-nCoV,” now, popularly called COVID-19, will soon skyrocket, doubling monthly for a while.

Why do I think so? Windshield survey plus more testing.

I see local noncompliance is flagrant, arrogant and often ironic. Federal law warning sign on post office door: “Masks required to enter lobby.” Twelve people in lobby. One mask. On one clerk … NOT the other! And the one clerk wearing a mask pulls it down to speak louder if the elder standing 3 feet in front of her is hard of hearing.

No gloves on the outdoor Walmart grocery pickup staff. The COVID drive-by testing lot next door is nearly empty. The store entrance monitors out front are looking down, chatting and gaming on dumbphones as families of customers pour past unscreened and uncounted.

What can be done? Start here: With the courthouse essentially closed and all or nearly all trials postponed weeks or months, why aren’t the lately idled assistant state attorneys, public defenders, sheriff and judges working (over this weekend if necessary) to identify an initial cluster of as-yet-unconvicted and documented-medically-vulnerable county jail inmates with nonviolent charges/histories for release to house arrest quarantine before they are the first to die when the currently grossly overcrowded facility becomes a charnel house?

Then the next week they should prioritize remaining nonviolent non-sex offender inmates for ankle-monitored release so the remaining hardened criminals necessarily and appropriately left behind might have enough space to socially distance and avoid the place becoming an incubator for a contagion WHICH WOULD ABSOLUTELY INFECT DEPUTIES, STAFF AND THEIR FAMILIES!

After a promising start to his reign, our president declares victory over COVID and now wants only Yes Men around. His child prodigy DeSantis (our governor) fires the last ethical scientist on staff for refusing to skew the dashboard data. There is a lot of wishful thinking and bizarre denial going on among those “in charge” locally and nationally but there aren’t enough BOCC souvenir hair driers or stockpiled DC Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) pills to stop that pandemic poltergeist once it floats across Fourth Street, up the outside steps, between the glass outer doors, under the steel inner doors and through the bars into the jail complex, then 14 days later heads for the fire station and county disaster bunker, leaving behind only hypoxic bodies, slam dunk negligence lawsuits (costing Okeechobee County taxpayers tens of millions) and state/federal civil rights “war crime” indictments for the reasonably predictable and easily avoidable negligent homicide of ill innocents and misdemeanor miscreants.

Do something.

Start now.


Steve S. Rolling

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