Yakima County and the other five counties in the south-central region immediately move to phase 2 due to a review of hospital admission data that shows the region has reached enough metrics to do so. , which gives a boost to local businesses and high school sports.
Gov. Jay Inslee said in a tweet on Sunday that the delay was due to a hospital error.
“Due to a reporting error by a hospital, the central (south) region was the only one that did not move to phase 2 this week,” Inslee tweeted. “I’m glad the hospital found the error, pointed it out and now the region can move forward. This means that our entire state is now in phase 2. ”
During phase 2, restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% capacity and indoor fitness centers can increase capacity to 25%. Additionally, high school sports leagues may begin a modified fall sports season, as planned, later this month with restrictions lifted on many sports as part of Phase 2.
Initially, Inslee announced Thursday that the South Central region, which includes Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, Columbia and Walla Walla counties, was to remain in Phase 1 due to the meeting of only two of the four metrics tracked by state public health officials. The rest of the state was able to progress or were already in Phase 2 due to meeting at least three of the four metrics, which look at new cases, hospital admissions, intensive care capacity, and positive test rate.
According to the state’s health ministry report, the region remained in phase 1 due to an increase in hospital admissions and a high positive test rate.
But news of the increase in hospital admissions in the south-central region goes against what local districts and health departments have reported, Yakima County Commissioner Amanda McKinney said.
McKinney said this led to a massive coordination effort by elected officials and the region’s health departments to investigate the number of hospitalizations. In particular, she congratulated the Yakima health district for coordinating efforts between health districts and departments in the south-central region.
As a result of this effort, an error from Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center in Walla Walla was discovered. The hospital had sent the state Department of Health data for all of their COVID patient admissions rather than just their new admissions. As a result of the error, the South Central region appeared to see an increase in admissions.
“The error was not intentional and we acted as quickly as possible to provide corrected data to the state,” said Susan Blackburn, CEO of the hospital, in a press release from the Department of Health. the state.
The hospital sent the correct data to the state health ministry. With the right data, it was clear that the south-central region, like the rest of the state, saw a sharp drop in hospitalizations and reached enough metrics to move into phase 2.
U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and State Senators Curtis King, R-Yakima, Perry Dozier, R-Waitsburg and Andy Billig, D-Spokane, lobbied Inslee and the Department of Health on Saturday to move the South. Central region in phase 2 after the correct hospital admission data has been submitted.
The state Department of Health said on its data dashboard that it would take a few days to update the dashboard, but confirmed that it had reviewed the data and that the central region south had met the hospital admissions metric.
McKinney said she had received data on hospital admission rates from health districts in all but one of the South Central region’s counties, and all had reported declines: Yakima, 36 %; Walla Walla, 36%; Kittita, 25%; Franklin, 25%; and Benton, 10%.
McKinney said she urged Inslee and state officials to consider disclosing data to elected officials and health officials before reopening the ads.
If this had been done before last week’s announcement, the error could have been caught earlier, she said.
“If we had found out ahead of time, even a day or a few hours, we could have said, ‘Hey, we don’t think that’s fair,’” McKinney said.
Newhouse, in a written statement Sunday, credited the efforts of local leaders and criticized Inslee’s approach to reopening.
“As this situation demonstrates, it is local health officials and elected leaders on the ground who are best equipped to handle the ongoing pandemic response – not the governor,” Newhouse wrote.
Yet for McKinney it was a massive victory for the community.
“We deserved it,” she said. “We are moving to phase 2 because of what everyone in Yakima County has been doing. “