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Pine Bluff receives $1.2 million grant to help prevent COVID-19 spread

The funds will go towards increasing COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations in Pine Bluff.

PINE BLUFF, Ark — COVID-19 isn't going away any time soon and for Pine Bluff, neither is the funding.

It's a story we are hearing in many cities around Arkansas and Pine Bluff is no exception. 

The COVID-19 vaccination rate has dwindled as the positivity rate has increased.

William Fells with the City of Pine Bluff said there's a misconception that the pandemic is over.

"Well, here in the city and just in the larger county, we're seeing where the vaccination rates are not where we want them to be," Fells said.

Pine Bluff is getting extra help from the U.S. Department of Human Service's Office of Minority Health which is giving the city a $1.2 million grant.

The money received will go towards increased COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The city will also focus on dispelling myths people have had about vaccinations.

UAPB, Jefferson Regional Hospital, and Southeast Arkansas College are some of the local organizations that will benefit from the extra funding.

"A part of this education is telling people, 'no, the pandemic is still around and it's very important you get vaccinated,'" Fells said.

Education to help make sure that the misconceptions with COVID-19 go away.

"At the end of the day our focus is on getting people the information that they need to protect and save their lives," Fells said.

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