Local News 6-22-20

Another bump up in our County’s Covid-19 numbers over the weekend – as of yesterday, we’d recorded 226 confirmed cases of the virus here with a total of ten deaths blamed on the bug. Up to our north, Polk County also saw a big bump upward, and slammed past the two thousand mark in confirmed Covid-19 cases yesterday. Hardee County reports 289 cases, and DeSoto County shows 450 confirmed cases on yesterday’s tally. Our hospitals are feeling that increase, too – out of the 49 total County hospitalizations since the outbreak began, 17 local patients were actively IN local hospitals here as of yesterday.

So, why have we more than doubled our Covid-19 cases here in the county since Memorial Day? Some of it’s the number of tests – we’ve done almost 6,600 tests, and more testing means more asymptomatic carriers found. But the percentage of our tests coming back positive is also creeping up, from the two percent range in mid-May to 3.4% on the last state report and over 4% in the last week. That’s still better than the state as a whole and well below the governor’s ten percent threshold for progress in business reopening, but it IS going up.

By the way, a rumor got started on Facebook over the weekend that Couynty was being locked down over the coronavirus. NOT TRUE, say the powers that be. County Administration has asked for voluntary cooperation in wearing a mask in public, keeping six-foot social distance separation and that you stay home if you feel ill. So, no – nobody’s manning guard stations or telling you you can’t go out.

If you’d like to be on the safe side, our local health department has updated testing schedules at its facility. Pre-registration is required, but free drive-through testing is available Mondays and Fridays at the office at 7205 South George Boulevard from 8:30am till 11:30am. Register ahead by calling 382-7260 or 382-7270. If you have symptoms, they ask you call your healthcare provider or the health department at 386-6040 to schedule an appointment.

The Florida State Patrol reports two traffic wrecks late last night that required road blocks within 90 minutes of each other. Troopers were dispatched to the intersection of State Road 70 and L-7 Ranch Road east of Highway 27 about a quarter after ten, and again about 11:30 for two separate incidents requiring roadblocks for a time on each incident. No reports of injuries from either and details will be made available later. Word is, cattle on the road put meats on the bones of this story.

Curbside recycling is coming back to the County’s unincorporated zones, so those yellow and green containers need to go back to their original purpose beginning NEXT week, the 29th. At the outset, ONLY clean cardboard, plastic bottles and jars, and aluminum or steel cans can be taken in the recycling bins. The County says PLEASE, just those items – contaminated recyclables have been just one of the factors making the recycling program problematic before its temporary shutdown a couple months ago, but it’s a factor they say we can control.

The Highlands County School Board is coming to you looking for input on reopening county schools in the fall – “Town Hall” style meetings are set for tonight at 6pm at Lake Placid Middle School, and at the same time tomorrow at Avon Park Middle School and then Wednesday at Sebring Middle School. They’ll have room for a maximum of fifty people in person, but will open the meeting to all comers on Zoom. The phone numbers and we addresses for joining online are on the School Board’s website and Facebook page, and re-posted on the sheriff’s department Facebook page.