COVID-19: 6 months of ‘new normal’ in the Natural State


An inside look at Arkansans dealing with 180 days of this coronavirus pandemic.

NORTHWEST, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — September 11, 2020, marks six months since the first reported COVID-19 case in Arkansas.

People are still hoarding Clorox wipes believe it or not, and it makes things a little complicated.


Pamela Holmes is a housekeeper who is also raising three children as a co-parent.


“I had to get a part-time job at a Dollar General Store which means more time away from the kids,” she said.

She said she’s lost some of her clients because many have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

“When I lose a house, I really lose income,” she said.

The coronavirus has taken a toll on her finances, just like it has for Dusty Allen.

He’s an Uber driver.


I miss everybody that I hauled around.


Allen’s last day of work was March 17.

He said he’s been on unemployment since then.

“I might be able to get by with another two months max before it starts getting more painful,” he said.

Regardless, he’s hopeful he’ll be back to work soon.

“Stay positive and stay strong because without that you can’t make it,” he said.

Lives, jobs, and even our healthcare system has changed over the course of this now six-month pandemic.

For the first time ever we had hospital systems in Northwest Arkansas working together and that’s something I never thought I would see.


Healthcare professionals such as City of Fayetteville Health Officer Dr. Marti Sharkey and Community Clinic Chief Medical Office Dr. Gary Berner said Arkansas has come a long way.

“We’ve learned to show each other grace and understand that everyone is going through their own sort of pandemic tragedy,” Dr. Sharkey said. “I think it’s brought us together in a bizarre sort of way when we haven’t been able to be together.” 

This is hard for everybody. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and just be kind.


They said the battle is far from over though.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

“The more you learn about something, the more you realize you don’t know,” Dr. Berner said.

Both Dr. Berner and Dr. Sharkey want to remind us the importance of continuing to wear our masks and keeping our social distance.

“The simple stuff has been the most effective,” Dr. Berner said.

“It’s half-time,” Dr. Sharkey said. “Let’s all take a deep breath and finish strong.” 

On Facebook, KNWA/FOX 24 News asked viewers to shed light on their greatest COVID-19 challenges.


Watching friends and family suffer mentally. So much depression, overwhelming sadness, and anxiety…I was afraid I would lose them.


As a healthcare worker, the greatest challenge has been trying to educate people on how to protect themselves and others despite all the misinformation and disinformation being shared on social media. Watching a public health crisis become a political topic has been beyond comprehension. It’s hard not to get upset with people, remind yourself they are terrified, and simply trying to cope. Coping mechanisms aren’t always pretty, but we have them for a reason. Also on the flip side trying to stay balanced myself with the fact that despite the pandemic we must open the economy and get our children back to school. It’s such a balancing act. When you see the worst of the virus it makes it harder to be at ease with things such as this. However, you know it’s taking a toll on people emotionally and financially. Also, I’m the mom of a high school senior. This year has been anything but the typical carefree year I had hoped for her. I teared up watching her play her flute masked last night at her first game. Then there is the typical weird stuff. Not a lot of company over. Online church. Almost no eating at restaurants. I think we’ve adjusted well, but we are luckier than many who are older or ill. They are still very isolated.


Not being able to be with my daughter when my grandson was born was heartbreaking. Not being able to go to funerals of family members was hard.


Looking back at the last six months, I think one of the biggest things I’ve seen impacted close to me is the isolation: and I mean in many ways. Husbands and wives isolated together with kids have really been tested to come together and work as a unified team after years of distractions. For us, it’s been wonderful! While being home working has been hard, the impact on my husband’s mental health has been enormously beneficial. He went from anxious and unhappy to productive and energetic! His company has been serious about protecting their workers. I’m so grateful for his ability to work from home. The time together has brought us closer as a couple and as parents. Some aren’t so lucky. The time together brings out all the ick that married couples and families have avoided for years. Another change I have seen is in churches. Christians have been faced with the litmus test of seeing how strong our relationship is with God without the music productions and inspirational teachings: are we really committed to prayer? To worship? To reading scripture? It’s a test to see if we could self-feed without a corporate worship “weekly shot in the arm.” Some have come out seeing how much they had to grow yet, and some will come out even closer to God than before. Being able to upkeep a personal relationship with God without outside help is a really important brick in the foundation of faith. Time tells all things.


I was sick with COVID for 6 miserable fevered, bedridden, sweaty, coughy, air gaspy weeks. My husband caught it while caring for me. We feel fortunate to be completely recovered now. We quarantined ourselves for 8 weeks (my 6 weeks of illness + two weeks after to avoid being contagious to others), with no visitors inside our house. Our adult daughter left us things we needed on our doorstep during the time frame we both were ill. I did have to neglect a minor tooth issue while ill – no dentist can really safely fix a cracked filling while you have COVID – and the delay resulted in the problem becoming one requiring oral surgery under general anesthesia. In normal times I would have avoided such surgery by a simple trip to the dentist. The surgical staff kidded me about being so dressed up just to have surgery. We all chuckled when I explained it was because the surgery was my first outing – and they were the first human beings I had seen in person (other than my husband) – for over two months. Of COURSE, I dressed up! ☺️


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