A report from the New York Times citing a coronavirus outbreak in Pine Bluff is being refuted by Mayor Shirley Washington in a text message sent to DeltaplexNews.com.

“They are saying that we are a hot spot because of the outbreak at the prison down south at Grady in Lincoln County,” said Washington. “They have over 800 positive inmates in the prison alone. There are 50-plus employees infected. We have had less than 200 in Jefferson County.”

Washington said she was first made aware of the report Monday when a reporter from the New York Times contacted her.

“I have been dealing with this report since early Monday morning when I first heard it from a reporter with the New York Times,” Washington said. “It seems that across the country they put the prisons in a region, and they label the largest city closest to the prison with the count. [For us] that’s Pine Bluff.  It is so unfair. I have found that it is happening to cities all over the country.”

at his daily press conference on the Corona virus pandemic, Governor Asa Hutchinson was asked about the report in the New York Times and said the numbers refer to the Pine Bluff Metropolitan area which includes Cummins prison which is not a part of the Pine Bluff community.

The Governor said the story was “misleading.”

“They did not tell part of the story,” Hutchinson said.

He went on to say that the first reported case of the Corona virus was in Pine Bluff and “they handled it very well.”

While Washington refutes this report, she did say she would like to see more emphasis put on social distancing, and working to protect citizens from the coronavirus.

“We do need to beef up our focus on social distancing, stay home/stay safe, and the wearing of masks,” Washington said. “We fell off after Easter Sunday when the storm and massive power outages took center stage.”

Additionally, Washington said she has had citizens tell her they do not believe the virus is real.

“When I am out talking to people many tell me they don’t believe in the virus,” Washington said. “Statements and attitudes like this are dangerous. We cannot continue the mitigation of the virus if the citizens fail to cooperate.”