David Monteith

Reporter

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

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.

stock photo

The number of calls being made to Arkansas's hotline for child abuse is down, but some are concerned that may not be an accurate indicator. With schools closed for the remainder of the school year, experts say one of the primary safety nets for helping abused children has been removed.

According to Elizabeth Pulley, the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, most reports of abuse come from educators trained to spot the signs.

Little Rock Family Planning Services
Arkansas Times

COVID-19 safety precautions have become the backdrop for the latest abortion arguments in Arkansas. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, filed a lawsuit Monday contesting a cease and desist order issued by the state last week.

U.S. Census Bureau

Arkansas officials are hoping more people in the state will choose to use mail, phone, or internet options to be counted in the census.

Shelby Johnson, the director of the state's Geographic Information Office and co-chair of Arkansas's Complete Count Committee, said, prior to COVID-19, census takers planned to use face-to-face meetings to increase participation in the event that happens once a decade.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Four weeks after the first confirmed case of the coronavirus was identified in Arkansas, 1,023 people in the state have tested positive for the virus. Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the announcement Wednesday, noting there were 77 additional cases over the previous 24 hours.

Wikimedia Commons

As many people are using delivery services to limit their time in public during the current health crisis, those who deliver the goods are in high demand. But one delivery driver who spoke with KUAR News expressed grave concerns about her job. We're not naming her employer.

Sarah Chaney delivers pizzas and says she wanted to raise attention that many like her aren't being adequately protected or compensated. A key concern is that her restaurant delivers to a Little Rock nursing home that has had over a dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

Small indications of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak could be showing in Arkansas's most recent revenue report. The March report, released Thursday, reflects mainly taxable transactions from February, before local and national recommendations for social distancing were widely in effect.

Amy Klobuchar
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Democratic presidential candidates are hoping to rally momentum in Arkansas during the final week before the state takes part in Super Tuesday's primary election.

On Monday, Michael Bloomberg’s campaign said the former New York City mayor will return to Arkansas on Thursday to speak at a rally in Bentonville. The announcement comes one day after Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in central Arkansas.

The National Weather Service

Arkansas farmers are bracing for another wet winter. Rainfall totals of up to seven inches in parts of the state are already well above average for February. John Lewis, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service, said this wet winter trend began two years ago.

"2018 was the 9th wettest year we’ve ever had in Arkansas, and that goes back to 1895. And 2019 was the 7th wettest, so you had two top 10 wet years in a row and we're certainly starting off that way this year," Lewis said.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Arkansas Governor's Mansion celebrated its 70th anniversary Monday. Former Governors Mike Beebe, Mike Huckabee, and Jim Guy Tucker joined family members of other previous governors at the mansion.

The campaign to build the mansion began in 1944 with Mrs. Agnes Bass Shinn. Governor Sid McMath and his family became the mansion's first residents on February 3, 1950.

First Lady Susan Hutchinson unveiled this year's commemorative Christmas ornament, a glass replica of the mansion, to mark the anniversary.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Super Tax Day, the annual kick-off event for a series of free tax services for low-income workers, is set for Saturday in several Arkansas cities. Entergy Arkansas has been a sponsor of the event since 2011. The energy provider partners with other state entities and the Internal Revenue Service to help promote the Earned Income Tax Credit, which increases the refund for low and middle-income individuals and families.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg returned to Arkansas Monday, the second time he has visited the state since announcing he was running for the nation's highest office. The former New York City mayor walked near the front of Little Rock’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, surrounded by supporters wearing "I Like Mike" shirts and waving signs.

Arkansas Department of Health
Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansans for whom holiday stress and winter blues turn to more serious symptoms of depression have somewhere to turn as a result of legislation passed in 2017 that created a state-funded suicide prevention call center run by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Tyler West, who works with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention on both a state and national level, says the strategy is unique.

National Weather Service

Temperatures in Arkansas are expected to swing from well above average to well below average after a powerful cold front moves through the state. After reaching a high near 70 degrees in Little Rock on Monday, John Lewis, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, says temperatures Tuesday are expected to be cold enough to bring a wintry mix to the area.

GivingTuesday.org

December has traditionally been a time in which donations to nonprofits spike as people, motivated either by holiday generosity or tax breaks, give to their favorite charities. In 2012, a social media event known as Giving Tuesday was launched in an effort to amplify the giving.

Walter Hussman
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is nearing the day when it will no longer deliver a daily printed paper. The newspaper has been transitioning its weekday service to an app-only format and plans to print only a Sunday edition of the paper by the beginning of next year.

Teresa Knapp Gordon (center), president of the Little Rock Education Association, telling reporters Monday that the union is calling for a one-day strike on Thursday.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas's State Board of Education will be discussing a memorandum of understanding regarding control of the Little Rock School District on Thursday. On that same day, members of the Little Rock Education Association, and the coalition #OneLRSD have planned a one-day strike.

Teresa Knapp Gordon, president of the teachers' union, said state officials have ignored previous requests that control of the district be in the hands of a locally elected school board.

March of Dimes

Babies in Arkansas are more likely to be born prematurely than in most other states, according to a report released Monday by the March of Dimes. It gives Arkansas a grade of F based on measurements of maternal and children's health.

Data from 2018 shows 11.6% of Arkansas babies were born three or more weeks before their due date, an increase of 0.2% over the previous year. The national rate is 10% and only four other states have a higher preterm birth rate.

Faith Sharp, with March of Dimes, said many Arkansas mothers lack access to pre-natal care.

David Monteith / KUAR News

At a cost of $1.2 million, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office has purchased in-vehicle cameras and body-worn cameras for all of its active deputies. 

Sheriff Eric Higgins said a $440,000 federal grant paid for the body-worn cameras, but the sheriff's office paid for the rest. 

KATV, Channel 7

Final attendance numbers are in and this year's Arkansas State Fair had the second-highest attendance in its 80-year history.

Doug White, in his first year as president and general manager of Arkansas State Fairgrounds, said the lack of rain was one reason for the success of this year's event.

"Having nine days of sunshine, having our only rain-day be on a Tuesday, which is typically a slow day anyway, we couldn't have scripted it any better. My first fair, obviously I’m elated," White said.

Telehealth technologies have high potential to improve oral health in Arkansas. Teledentistry is now widely used by orthodontists across the state, but not yet by most Arkansas dentists.

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