Hendry County honors National Hospital Week

CLEWISTON — Hendry County Commission thanked local healthcare workers and the hospital for their dedication and hard work during the coronavirus pandemic as they honored National Hospital Week at the May 12 commission meeting. 

Dr. Joseph Pepe, Health Officer for Hendry and Glades counties, attended the meeting by phone. Dr. Pepe reported there were a total of 988 people in Hendry County tested to date, with 159 positive; 133 of those positives were residents of Clewiston; 24 were residents of LaBelle; 2 were from unincorporated Hendry County. He also reported that 28 of those individuals no longer required isolation. He said 38% of the positive cases have been located in long term care facilities. 

Dr. Pepe  said that he and his staff had been focused on dramatically increasing the amount of testing, and that they were looking to launch more accessible testing for Hendry County residents where no doctor referral would be needed by Thursday, May 14. The sites will be in LaBelle and Clewiston on alternating days, with reserved 1 hour blocks to avoid back up and long lines. 

Dr. Pepe also discussed both the success and importance of the Hendry County Health Department’s free COVID-19 safety course for businesses and employees. The safety course had 50 attendants in its first class where they went over policies and procedures that should be utilized in order to protect both staff and customers during reopening. 

Commissioner Karson Turner asked if adequate amounts of tests and testing supplies were available. Dr. Pepe explained that after a significant amount of effort they had received tests from several sources. “We don’t have what we want, but we have enough for what we need,” he added.

Hendry County Administrator Jennifer Davis reported they were working on the microphone and camera upgrades for the county meetings. Some complaints had been made regarding virtual meetings and comprehending what had been said and who said it. 

COVID-19 safety precautions delayed special code enforcement magistrate meetings, but that the code enforcement office scheduled two meetings each in the months of June and July, and are optimistic about getting caught up. 

Commissioner Emma Byrd reported that she had received numerous complaints from the community about people not wearing masks in public. She said that while she understood their concerns, and strongly encouraged the use of masks, it was something they could not enforce. 

There have been numerous fires in the Felda area, despite the countywide burn ban. The commissioners urged the community to be aware of and follow the rules in order to avoid putting first responders in danger and causing disastrous losses.  The Hendry County Commission meets twice each month, on the second Tuesday of the month in the Clewiston City Hall, Commission Chambers, 115 West Ventura Ave, Clewiston, Florida and on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the  Hendry County Courthouse, Commission Chambers,  25 E. Hickpochee Avenue, LaBelle. Meetings start at 5 p.m. unless otherwise announced. 

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