Coronavirus

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.

Governor's Office

After what appeared to be the beginning a downward trend, Arkansas had its highest ever recording of new COVID-19 cases, with the total now surpassing 22,000.

The state saw 878 new cases, a number that more than doubles the number of new cases announced on Wednesday.  The total number of coronavirus cases is now 22,075.  Of the total number of cases, 6,098 are considered active, an increase from Wednesday, when the state saw its first day of fewer active cases in days.

Governor's Office

Arkansas appears to be on a downward trend of COVID-19 cases as the total number of cases falls short of 21,200.

According to numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health, the state saw a total of 420 new cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 21,197. Of those cases, 5,757 are considered active. That’s a decrease of 219 compared to Tuesday’s numbers.

The number of Arkansans hospitalized also went down by 15 for a total of 275. The state did see an increase of seven in coronavirus deaths, with the total now 277.

Central Arkansas Library System

Though the Central Arkansas Library System is in the middle of reopening all of its branches since closing them in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, patrons visiting their local branch will see some changes.

Monday, June 22, marked week three of CALS's reopening strategy, with the Children’s, Thompson and Williams libraries opening for the first time. The system’s largest branches, the Terry and Main libraries will open last on June 29.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas saw its third highest number of new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as the total number of cases in the state nears 11,000.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 448 new cases have been recorded. The total number of cases is now 10,816. Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active.

The total number of Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19 is now 187. That’s an increase of six. 171 Arkansans have now died from the coronavirus, also an increase of six compared to yesterday.

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

The City of Little Rock has announced an initiative that allows restaurants that want to temporarily expand their outdoor dining availability due to the coronavirus pandemic to do so.

In a news conference Friday, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the city should give restaurants a greater flexibility on where they can place tables for outdoor dining.

"So what that basically means is this dine-out initiative is the allowance of more tables at restaurants’ parking lots, sidewalks and lawns in a very socially-distant way," Scott said.

Arkansas Department of Health

The northwest region of Arkansas continues to lead the state in new cases of COVID-19 as the total number of cases has surpassed 8,400.

According to the state Department of Health, Arkansas added 358 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 8,425. Of those new cases, 2,355 are considered active. 151 people have died from the coronavirus in the state, an increase of nine.

Little Rock Farmers Market
littlerock.com

Despite new regulations and restrictions due to COVID-19, some farmers markets are still opening up for the season, though many are making adjustments.

According to information from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, 69% of the state’s farmers markets plan to open or already are open for the season. That number is based on a survey of the state’s farmers market operators.

The survey also concluded 56% of market operators surveyed said they plan on limiting the number of customers allowed, while 33% plan to have fewer vendors.

While the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services’ website where residents can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, is up and running, investigations are still ongoing over a past vulnerability in the site that left the financial data of thousands of Arkansans unprotected in mid-May.

KUAR spoke with Lindsey Millar, editor of the Arkansas Times about breaking the story of the flaw in the website and what followed. Below is the transcript of the edited interview that aired on KUAR.

Arkansas Department of Health

The upward trend of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas’s Latino population continues as more than 40% of the state’s daily increase in new cases came from the state’s Latino communities.

Arkansas saw a rise of 261 new cases Thursday bringing the state’s total number of coronavirus cases to 6,538, according to the state Department of Health. Of those new cases, 110 were in Arkansas’s most northwest counties, with Benton County reporting 85 new positive test results and Washington County reporting 25.

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.

UAMS covid-19 coronavirus
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansans seeking a test for COVID-19 now have more options to find one as the Arkansas Department of Health has expanded its testing ability to its Local Health Units, located across the state.

The expansion, which began on Monday, means testing is now available at around 70 of the state’s local health units. The list of health units providing testing can be found here.

Almost one year since the opening of the first dispensary in the state, Arkansans are continuing to buy medical marijuana, with some dispensaries reporting record sales over the past few weeks.

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, approximately 11,000 pounds have been sold in total. Those sales amount to $73 million.

Scott Hardin, director of communications for the department, says purchasing habits of medical marijuana have changed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Corona
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

The coronavirus pandemic has made physical health a priority for communities across the country. While social distancing is key in the fight to control the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, decreased social contact and significant changes to everyday life bring another priority for health professionals to respond to: mental health. 

Humans are social animals and seek interactions with others. With the onset of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, normal interactions have become more difficult.  

Governor's Office / YouTube

Barbershops and hair salons in Arkansas can reopen by next Wednesday as the state continues to ease restrictions on businesses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement from Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday came as a total of 3,321 people had tested positive for the virus in the state, while 64 people have died from COVID-19.

Speaking with reporters at a daily briefing, Hutchinson said other cosmetology-related businesses can reopen on May 6.

Arkansas Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center is making many adjustments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though their Riverdale location remains closed because of social distancing guidelines, the center moved classes online for a four-week block. Additionally, the 62nd annual Delta Exhibition, which features 63 works of art from artists across Arkansas as well as from neighboring states, will open for online viewing beginning on June 19. 

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

In order to further combat the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Little Rock is launching a series of services, including a testing site this Saturday at the Southwest Community Center off of Baseline Road.

Announcing the initiatives during a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said while the city continues its effort to contain COVID-19, it’s also important to focus on how the virus is impacting minority communities and to provide needed assistance.

Little Rock Port Authority Port of Little Rock
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Little Rock Port Authority is seeing a decrease in shipping volume not only because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to record low oil prices.

Bryan Day is the executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority. He says the port authority itself as well as other private businesses have seen an impact in the past few months.

Stock Photo

Shoppers looking for certain groceries like beef or eggs might have had trouble buying those products during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the lack of food in aisles is due to a change in the supply chain and not a shortage.

John Anderson is the head of the Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Department at the University of Arkansas. He says the abrupt closings of restaurants due to the outbreak caused a major shift in where food was delivered.

"We went virtually overnight to no restaurant trade, no food service trade," Anderson said.

Little Rock Zoo Playground
Little Rock Zoo

With Arkansans practicing social distancing, and unnecessary travel discouraged,  Arkansas tourism has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many tourism destinations shut down indefinitely. 

Travis Napper is the director of Tourism for Arkansas and says tourism has "screeched to a halt" due to the pandemic.

"That’s for, right now the safety of our visitors, the safety of our locals. That comes first before any recovery of tourism," Napper said.

USDA - McKeand

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy, sectors involving forestry industry are no exception.

According to research from the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, changes in housing, manufacturing as well as consumer goods are also shifting the forest products industry. 

Dr. Matthew Pelkki is the chair of forest economics at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He says paper products are seeing varying demands depending on the products themselves, with most seeing a decline.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As Arkansans continue to change their routines and lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, some are finding new ways to take advantage of the situation and of  others for their own gain.

KUAR spoke with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge about some scams that are emerging due to COVID-19. 

Below is a transcript of the aired conversation.

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to get ahead of any negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, Little Rock city directors have approved a more than 2% cut to the city’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year. 

During a special meeting Wednesday, board members, many of whom were calling in through phone or video chat, voted to pass an ordinance that cuts the city’s budget by $4,928,545.

Those cuts include:

Pinnacle Mountain State Park
File Photo

While non-essential businesses in Arkansas remain closed due to the coronavirus, state parks are still open for the public to enjoy, though some changes have been made to encourage social distancing. 

Earlier this month, the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced the closures of its lodges at DeGray Lake Resort, Mount Magazine, Petit Jean and Queen Wilhelmina. That’s in addition to the closures of events at the parks and visitors centers at 13 state parks, with exceptions granted for people checking into camp grounds or cabins.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate spent its first day of the special session debating and not passing an amendment to a bill that establishes a COVID-19 rainy day fund for the state.

Amanda Good / Humane Society

Arkansans with pets could face additional dilemmas as the coronavirus continues to spread, including whether a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.

Dr. Eric Jayne is the medical director for Spay Arkansas and a veterinarian. He says the American Veterinary Medical Association has sent out recommendations for veterinarians to follow. One of those recommendations is to suspend non-essential services such as dental check-up, spay and neuter services or other appointments that could wait.

Stock Photo

As the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to rise, those involved with political petitions are finding it difficult to gather signatures.

According to the 2020 Initiatives and Referenda handbook from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, a total of 89,151 signatures are needed for a petition proposing a constitutional amendment. Furthermore, said signatures must come from 15 counties in Arkansas and be completely turned in by July 3.

Though no new presumed cases of COVID-19 were announced in Arkansas on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said more diagnoses can be expected as the state’s testing capability grows.

Some health insurance companies, such as United Healthcare and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield have adjusted their policies to cover testing for the coronavirus for its customers. KUAR spoke with Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield on the changes the health insurer has made due to COVID-19. Below is the transcript from the broadcasted conversation.  

UALR sign
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

On Thursday, the same day Arkansas confirmed a total of six presumptive cases of coronavirus in the state, several universities officially switched to online classes in an effort to curb in-person contact and the spread of the virus. Though the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has no presumed cases, it is now conducting its courses online.  KUAR spoke with University Chancellor Christina Drale about the decision. Below is the broadcasted transcript from that conversation.