Central region

Kittitas County and Rest of South-Central Washington Area OK for Phase 2 After Data Reporting Error | Columbia Basin

KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) – Six counties in south-central Washington have been approved to move to Phase 2 reopening and can immediately ease COVID restrictions, the state Department of Health said on Sunday.

Benton, Franklin, Yakima, Kittitas, Walla Walla, and Columbia counties were the last of the state’s 39 counties to move to Phase 2.

The herald of the three cities reports this means restaurants and bars can serve food and drink indoors, fitness centers can offer more services, and cinemas and other indoor entertainment businesses can reopen.

All will be limited to 25% capacity.

In addition, certain small indoor gatherings at home are permitted.

The change took place after a data error was discovered. Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday said the south-central Washington region had failed to meet two of the four targets required to ease restrictions on viruses.

Regions must meet at least three of the requirements of the Road to Recovery reopening plan.

But one hospital in Walla Walla had incorrectly reported its hospital data for new COVID-19 patients, instead of reporting data for all new patients, according to the state Department of Health.

The problem was discovered after local health officials met to discuss why the data did not match what they were experiencing in hospitals in the area.

Correcting the data means the Center-Sud region now meets a requirement that hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients per 100,000 population decline by 10%.

Incorrect data last week showed a 9% increase in the COVID patient admissions rate in the south-central region, while admissions for the state fell 16%.

When the percentage was recalculated with correct data, the number of COVID patient admissions to hospitals in the region fell 19%.

The Center-Sud region had already met state requirements for reducing the number of new COVID patients per 100,000 people and less than 90% of its hospital intensive care unit beds are used by all patients.

The fourth indicator, which he did not reach, reduced the percentage of positive COVID tests to less than 10%.

Walla Walla’s Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center said it erred in reporting the hospital data.

“The error was not intentional and we moved as quickly as possible to provide corrected data to the state,” said Susan Blackburn, the hospital’s executive director.