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People paying close attention to the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas have likely encountered ArkansasCOVID.com, a website founded and edited by Misty Orpin of Springdale that is closely tracking data tied to the outbreak.
Orpin is a journalist and small-business owner whose need to know more about the nature of the virus’ spread in Arkansas drove her to found the site earlier this year.
Each day, she downloads the latest numbers from the state Department of Health on infections, testing, hospitalizations, deaths, active cases and more, puts the information into spreadsheets, and updates her website with charts and graphs to plot the pandemic’s reach across Arkansas.
“I was watching the press conferences every day. And I was finding that I wasn’t getting a lot of the answers that I was looking for, through the data that was being released through the state or given out at the press conferences,” she said. “So I started tracking it a little bit more deeply, and then put that information out there for others to use as well.”
Orpin’s efforts have been cited by the Arkansas Times, Talk Business & Politics, KATV-TV and KNWA-TV. She helped sniff out an inaccurate, White House-supplied chart on virus testing efforts displayed by the governor during one of his daily press briefings. And she called attention to testing disparities in northwest Arkansas days before health officials noted them publicly.
As Orpin’s project grew, she received funding from Arkansas Soul, a statewide outreach project for African American high school students and other students of color, and the Northwest Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists. She has help from Mary Hennigan, a senior journalism student at the University of Arkansas, who is working toward a news and editorial degree with a minor in anthropology.
Arkansas Business talked to Orpin this week about her website, the trends she’s watching, what businesses should pay attention to and how the state reports infections involving businesses.
What Data Businesses Should Watch
On COVID-19, Poultry Plants and Other Businesses
What Data Arkansas Doesn’t Collect But Should