Central region

Phase 2 Begins for South Central Washington Region

After announcing on Thursday that the South Central region was not allowed to move into Phase 2 of the recovery plan roadmap like the rest of the state, the state health department of Washington said Sunday the decision was overturned.

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It turns out that the region—composed of Benton and Franklin counties, Yakima County, Kittitas County, Walla Walla County, and Columbia County—had met the criteria to move forward; it did not appear as such due to a data entry error.

Based on the corrected data, the region qualifies for Phase 2.

In a DOH letter dated February 14, 2021, local counties were notified of an update to the South Central Region phase after “a hospital in the region appears to have incorrectly reported its data admission to hospital”.

“The hospitalization metric we haven’t encountered took us by surprise,” Yakima County Commissioner Amanda McKinney said in a Facebook Live video. “We immediately thought there must be something wrong with the numbers.”

After researching information on hospitalization metrics, which had been reported directly by hospitals to the Department of Health, “I can share with you today that we have confirmed that, for this metric, Yakima County has decreased by 30% Kittitas County experienced a decrease of 25% Walla Walla County experienced a decrease of 36% Benton County experienced a decrease of 10% Franklin County experienced a decrease of down 22%,” McKinney said, rebutting the state’s assessment that the region had seen a +9% decline. to augment in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients.

Moving to Phase 2, some restrictions on business and entertainment are relaxed. Once in Phase 2, entertainment venues are allowed to reopen at reduced capacity. Restaurants and indoor businesses can operate at 25% capacity. Gyms will reopen with limited capacity.


Statewide, Washington has shown much improvement. The state is seeing a 7% overall positivity rate, a -16% trend in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and a -40% trend in new COVID-19 cases.

Overall, Phase 2 is allowing Washingtonians to return to some semblance of normalcy amid the looming restrictions of this pandemic.

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“I want to thank everyone in Kittitas County, our partners in the South Central region, and other agencies and staff who have worked to defend our county,” said the director of the public health department of the Kittitas County, Tristen Lamb. “I believe everyone in our county continues to work at the highest level for our residents and it shows.”

Walla Walla County sent a similar statement.

“I want to thank everyone in Walla Walla County, including our Community Health Department, our partners in the South Central Region, other agencies and staff who have worked tirelessly to get us through to Phase 2,” Walla Walla County said. Curator Greg Tompkins.

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For more information about vaccinations in the South-Central Washington area, visit our COVID-19 Vaccination Center or the state coronavirus page.