Error in reporting hospital data kept South Central Region in Phase 1; now moving to Phase 2

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The South Central Region, previously the only group of counties left behind in Phase 1, has now been cleared to move to Phase 2 once a reporting error was fixed.

The Washington State Department of Health says Providence St. Mary Hospital, in Walla Walla, was reporting their data wrong—reporting all COVID patients they have, rather than new COVID patients.

“[The hospital] discovered an error in its reporting of COVID-19 positive patients admitted to the hospital, and immediately provided corrected data to the Washington Department of Health. The error was unintentional, and we acted as quickly as possible to provide corrected data to the state,” said Providence St. Mary’s chief executive, Susan Blackburn. “We hope this corrected information will be helpful in assessing whether our communities are ready to move to Phase 2 of the Governor’s reopening plan, and we appreciate our partnership with the state that has allowed us to correct this error.”

DOH and local health officials caught this mistake and corrected it after noting how the data did not reflect what they were seeing in their communities. The correction now puts their metrics into the acceptable range, so the South Region will be moving to Phase 2 effective Sunday.

All of Washington is now in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

“When errors like this happen, our DOH team is committed to getting things corrected as quickly as possible,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah. “We are pleased that partners in the South Central region brought this issue to our attention and we were able to resolve the matter quickly.”

To advance to Phase 2, a region needs to meet three of four metrics, including 14-day rate of COVID cases per 100,000 population, 14-day rate of COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 population, 7-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds and 7-day percent positive of COVID tests.