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Data error blamed for misreporting child COVID-19 death in Spokane County

UPDATED: Sat., June 5, 2021

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

A data entry mistake led to erroneous reports that a child died last week of COVID-19 in Spokane County, the Spokane Regional Health District confirmed Thursday.

“The misreporting of the COVID-19-related death in the 0-9 demographic was due to a data error discovered within the case’s line-item, which resulted in the case being filtered into the wrong age demographic,” Kelli Hawkins, spokeswoman at the health district, said in an email.

The origin of the error cannot be pinpointed, she added, saying it could have occurred at any point during the death reporting process.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, data has been subject to change due to the constant flux of information reported to the health district on a daily basis and the potential for errors from duplicate cases assigned from a different county or, in this case, something wrong with how the data was entered.

The health district determined no child younger than 10 has died from COVID-19 in Spokane County.

As of Wednesday, the backlog of COVID-19 case data coming from the state Department of Health, with some cases dating back to December, is complete.

That backlog in cases was inflating the region’s COVID-19 case rate and case count numbers. For example, from May 21 to June 2, some 836 of the 1,885 cases reported by the health district were due this backlog.

Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez told reporters Wednesday that the region is moving in the right direction.

“We’ve not only plateaued, but we’ve started to move downward in the right direction,” he said.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 138 new cases Thursday and one additional death.

There have been 647 deaths among Spokane County residents due to COVID-19.

There are 75 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 56 new cases Thursday and no new deaths. There are 23 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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