David Monteith

Reporter

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Last April, when much of the state was shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calls to Arkansas' child abuse hotline dropped significantly. Teachers — the group most likely to spot and report suspected maltreatment — had shifted to virtual classrooms and were having less interaction with students.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson getting a COVID-19 vaccine Monday at the Arkansas Department of Health.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Homes and workplaces are expected to see a positive impact as a result of new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the guidelines released Monday, fully vaccinated people can now safely gather indoors in small groups without masks or physical distancing.

Salfalko / Creative Commons

Last year, Pulaski County became one of seven counties nationwide selected to take part in a program designed to improve the pre-trial aspects of the justice system. The program focuses on decisions made before a defendant comes to trial—whether a police officer issues a citation or makes an arrest, for example—or whether a judge decides to release the accused on bail or make them wait in jail.

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

The Arkansas Arts Center officially adopted a new name Monday, becoming the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.

The Arts Center originally opened in 1937 in downtown Little Rock under the name Museum of Fine Arts. In 1960, it became the Arkansas Arts Center. Standing amidst the ongoing renovations, Van Tilbury, president of the board of trustees, said the new name was chosen to honor the organization’s history, its ties to the state, and its intention to become an arts destination for visitors to the city.

Little Rock Compassion Center
David Monteith / KUAR News

The combination of the pandemic and the arrival of cold weather is worsening the difficulties faced by the homeless in Little Rock. According to organizations serving the homeless in the state's capital city, the number of people seeking help has increased since the onset of the pandemic.

Pastor William Holloway, CEO of the Little Rock Compassion Center, said the emergency shelter for the homeless has averaged 175 people per night in recent weeks—more than 25 per people than normal for this time of year.

Farmer working with row crops.
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A research project by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is hoping to understand why more farmers in the south don't produce organic crops. Professor Michael Popp from the Fayetteville campus designed a survey to collect information about types of crops and obstacles to organic farming in the region.

David Monteith / KUAR News

A record number of Pulaski County voters cast ballots during the early voting period for the General Election, which ended Monday. Pulaski County Election Commissioner Joshua Price says 110,284 residents voted at the polls— a 39% increase over 2016—and over 25,000 submitted absentee ballots.

Vote button
Talk Business & Politics

The integrity of the voting process both on a national and local scale is a concern for many during this election. On Tuesday the Clinton School of Public Service held a virtual public program with two election security experts.

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This year’s voting process has already experienced more turmoil than most previous elections. In response, the Democratic Party of Arkansas (DPA) announced Friday that it  created a voter protection hotline. 

www.fns.usda.gov/snap / USDA

Arkansans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits will now be able to do more of their grocery shopping online. Arkansas’s Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the new program last week.

DHS spokeswoman Marci Manley said this will allow SNAP recipients to avoid shopping indoors, where the risk of contracting the coronavirus is higher.

David Monteith / KUAR News

As Halloween approaches, many are wondering how to celebrate this holiday while taking precautions not to spread the coronavirus. Some professional haunted houses, like Terrorplex in Little Rock, have decided to close their doors for the year. Owner Michael Higgins, who has Type 2 diabetes, said it wasn't worth the risk.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences UAMS
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Some doctors and hospitals have adopted new practices to encourage women in Arkansas to get breast cancer screenings. Dr. Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, a breast cancer surgeon at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, says fewer women are getting checked since Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a directive on April 3 banning elective medical procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulaski Circuit County Clerk

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. The holiday, which occurs the fourth Tuesday of every September, is designed to encourage an increase in voter participation, but efforts to get people registered have been happening for weeks in Arkansas. Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth says there are already 12,000 more registered voters than at this time four years ago. She credits new collaborations for the increase.

Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansans with symptoms of COVID-19 may be able to get test results more quickly. This week, the Arkansas Department of Health expects a shipment of almost 13,000 individual antigen tests usable with the BD Veritor System machines purchased in July.

The department's Deputy Director of Administration, Don Adams says the antigen tests can deliver results in less than 30 minutes.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Recording the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black Arkansans is the goal of a new project by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.

On Tuesday the museum will begin collecting video, audio and written commentary to document the experience of Black people in the state. Christina Shutt, the museum's director, says the staff began collecting newspaper articles and other artifacts when the pandemic began, but wanted to expand their efforts.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction on August 24 continues to draw criticism from some parents and community members. Thursday, a group of close to 40 demonstrators drew 95 chalk outlines of bodies on the street outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock.

Veronica McClane, parent of a Little Rock School District 2nd grader, says the display was meant to show the potential consequences of reopening.

classroom desks
http://www.nctq.org

With Gov. Asa Hutchinson mandating the reopening of brick and mortar public schools in Arkansas for in-person instruction during the week of August 24, some parents are looking at other options, like homeschooling, or one of the state's virtual charter schools.

Jennifer Chosich, who lives outside of Little Rock, has homeschooled her 8th grade daughter for her entire life. She believes interest in the homeschool network has increased over the summer.

US Census Bureau

Arkansans could lose billions in federal funding as a result of changes to the 2020 census. Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the deadline for states to accept responses is now September 30, a full month earlier than previously planned.

Brad Cameron, spokesman for Arkansas Counts, says more than four out of every 10 households in the state have not yet submitted responses to the census.

Pulaski Circuit County Clerk

Election officials are preparing for an expected increase in the number of voters casting absentee ballots in November. Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth is hosting an on-line training Tuesday night for those interested in learning how to help others register to vote or cast an absentee ballot.

"We usually send out about 8,000 or 9,000 absentee ballots. That's what we sent out in 2016 and right now, we're already at the point where we have 4,261 people who have requested to vote absentee."

Dr. Joe Thompson
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Former Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompson praised recent efforts by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials to curb the spread of COVID-19, but said even more steps need to be taken.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Most movie theaters in Arkansas closed in mid-March, around the time the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the state. The state, despite never meeting the re-opening criteria suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, began Phase One reopening in early May by proclamation of Governor Asa Hutchinson. According to the governor's guidelines, indoor movie theaters were allowed to resume operations on May 18.

Arkansas State Parks

Visitors to any of the Arkansas state parks now have the option to add stamps to a park passport. The new program was announced last week. Grady Spann, the director of Arkansas State Parks, says other park systems around the county have similar programs.

"The national parks do have a passport program, as do other state's park systems around the nation. And so, this is Arkansas’s version of that same concept to encourage people to visit all 52 of our parks."

David Monteith / KUAR News

Despite Arkansas seeing a record number of COVID-19 cases, the state is moving on to Phase Two of reopening, guided by the Trump Administration's Opening Up America Again Guidelines. Under Phase Two, which began Monday restaurants are allowed to operate at two-thirds capacity for dine-in services. Not all restaurants are eager to reopen however.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

People suffering from anxiety or depression have a new resource available in the form of new technology, according to a research study by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The study says a group of apps, usable on most smartphones, achieved significant improvements in the mental health of primary care patients.  

Dr. Carolyn Greene, an associate professor at UAMS and the project's lead scientist, says the goal was to provide the public with something effective and easy to use.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. and Police Chief Keith Humphrey speak to reporters today about credible threats of violence by outside agitators.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

More protests over police brutality and systemic racism are scheduled in Little Rock, with a memorial walk planned to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Arkansas State Capitol.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that he was spending time listening to the concerns of demonstrators and community leaders. One of those was a Little Rock artist who goes by Drekkia Writes.

Bumble

Some Arkansans are finding ways to date new people without risking spreading the coronavirus. KUAR spoke with three people who've tried to maintain a social life while practicing social distancing. The names used in this report are pseudonyms.

Daniel, Victor and Sharon, all in their early to mid-thirties, take official warnings regarding the coronavirus seriously. Despite that, they are among the many who haven't given up on dating during the coronavirus pandemic.

National Association for Education of Young Children

Licensed childcare providers in Arkansas can now apply for funding to help pay for costs associated with COVID-19. The state's Department of Human Services announced on Friday the receipt of $41 million in federal assistance from the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Mark Abernathy Loca Luna
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas restaurants were allowed to begin reopening for dine-in service Monday, but many are waiting until they feel more comfortable letting patrons back in during the coronavirus outbreak. Some also said that with already thin profit margins, it doesn’t make sense from a business perspective to reopen.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Numbers from Arkansas's monthly revenue report are beginning to show the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The report was released Monday by the state's Department of Finance and Administration. John Shelnutt, an economist with the department, pointed out the data represents transactions from March and social distancing measures were only in effect for half that month.

"We expected large losses in major categories, and, in most cases they were not as bad as we predicted." Shelnutt said.

ShareAlike 4.0 International / Wikimedia Commons

One of the state's biggest crops could help some Arkansas farmers stay afloat during the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.

Arkansas is the nation's leading rice producer and that may benefit the state in the coming months, says to Dr. Tim Burcham, Director of the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

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