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Central Arkansas warming centers navigate cold winter amid COVID-19 pandemic

As it gets colder, warming centers are taking in as many people as possible, but there have also been some hurdles to overcome to keep COVID guidelines in mind.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The cold can be hard for some, especially those without homes or a warm place to stay.

The Compassion Center has opened its doors to anyone needing a warm place to stay no matter what time of the day.

Around 100 people can stay there at a time. The Compassion Center has opened up its dining room and TV lounge area to keep people fed and occupied during the day, but COVID-19 has created some changes for the facility. 

"What we try to do because of this pandemic is get them outside, so we can really sterilize the complete building in a couple of hours," said Pastor William Holloway, CEO of The Compassion Center.

"When we got everybody inside it takes about half a day to get it all done," said Pastor Holloway.

Other shelters are creating ways to make sure coronavirus guidelines are followed. 

This year, Conway Ministry Center has moved their warming center to the Don Owen Complex to make sure everyone can be socially distanced.

There is a questionnaire and temperature check that everyone has to do before they are allowed to stay. 

It's open until March 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily. Hours will be extended this week as the weather stays cold during the day.

"Homeless shelters are always important year-round, but especially during the coldest winter months. Arkansas has some pretty nasty nights," said Spring Hunter, the executive director of the Conway Ministry Center.

Salvation Army Central Arkansas also has a warming center. There's only a handful of beds for men and women, but starting this week, they are adding more.

They will also be opening up the dining area for people to stay during the day when it gets too cold to be outside for long periods of time.