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All regions in Washington now in Phase 2 of reopening plan

After a data reporting error was corrected in the South Central region, the Washington State Department of Health announced all regions have advanced to Phase 2.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — All counties in Washington state have now advanced to Phase 2 of the "Healthy Washington" reopening plan after a data error was corrected that was keeping one region held back.

On Thursday, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported five regions would advance to Phase 2 starting Sunday, Feb 14, but that the South Central Region, which includes Yakima, Kittitas, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia counties, would stay in Phase 1.

But on Sunday the DOH said it discovered Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla was reporting COVID-19 hospital admission data incorrectly, which made it so the South Central Region did not get the green light to move to Phase 2 along with the other regions in the state.

The DOH said once it was made aware of the data error, state health officials stepped in to help correct it. 

"When errors like this happen, our DOH team is committed to getting things corrected as quickly as possible. 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,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah in a prepared statement. 

Susan Blackburn, the chief executive at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, said the data error was unintentional and hospital staff acted as quickly as possible to provide the corrected data to the state. 

The Puget Sound and West regions had already moved to Phase 2 at the start of February, but now all eight regions in the state are in Phase 2 -- they include: 

  • Puget Sound -- King, Pierce Snohomish 
  • West -- Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston 
  • South Central -- Yakima, Kittitas, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia 
  • North – Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan
  • Northwest – Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason
  • Southwest – Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania and Wahkiakum
  • North Central – Chelan, Okanogan, Douglas and Grant
  • East – Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Adams, Whitman, Garfield and Asotin

In Phase 2, a maximum of five people from outside of a person's household can gather indoors and indoor dining is available at 25% capacity until 11 p.m., among other changes. Indoor fitness centers can also open at 25% capacity.

Inslee originally announced the regions would advance on Monday, Feb. 15, but amended his plan to Sunday, Feb. 14. 

"This creates more options for restaurants to make Valentine's Day special for couples who hoped they could have a night out," Inslee tweeted.

Last month Inslee relaxed the criteria to move between phases. Counties must now meet three of the following four metrics to be allowed to proceed.

  • 10% decreasing trend in case rates
  • 10% decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
  • ICU occupancy that’s less than 90%
  • Test positivity rate that’s less than 10%

The DOH said it reassesses the metrics for all eight regions every two weeks. The next reassessment and phase announcement will come on Feb. 25.