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to retire The Beast.

NOTE: The Leo case management system launch is now set for Thursday, Dec.  10.

You may be surprised to learn our COVID-19 data tracking all started with spreadsheets. We didn’t have a data tracking system ready for what this pandemic would throw at us.

We’ve made improvements all along the way, and a big one is coming Monday. It will improve the reliability and reduce the need for manual corrections to this open data set.

Here’s the history of COVID-19 data tracking in Pierce County:

Early in the pandemic, we created a spreadsheet to track cases and contacts. As our response to the disease grew, so did our spreadsheet.

More than 20 people may work in it simultaneously, which can slow the entire computer system down—and sometimes crashes it. After thousands of cases and contacts, the spreadsheet became a behemoth we simply referred to as The Beast.

On Monday, Dec. 7, The Beast retires, and our new case management system, Leo, goes live.

We created Leo using Esri, the same software Tri-County Health Department in Greenwood Village, Colo., used for its program, Carl. Tri-County developed its system, also mid-pandemic, and graciously provided it to us as a starting point.

Since early August, with technical support from Esri, we’ve worked to customize the software for our own county’s needs.

“When I first looked at the software, I knew it would help us work cleaner, reach out to people sooner and be more flexible,” said Leo Castonguay, a licensed practical nurse at the Health Department.

Because of Leo’s championing and long tenure as a case and contact investigator, we affectionately named the new system after him.

You should not see any difference in how we display our data. You may notice a change in our daily data report on Monday because we need to freeze The Beast, transfer data, then go live with Leo. This could mean some reporting interruptions, but no data losses.

You’ll get more reliable data, and we‘ll work more efficiently.

Mistakes can happen with 20 people accessing and working in a spreadsheet. We always let you know when we need to correct or de-duplicate our data. You’ll see fewer of those correction updates now.

With The Beast, we kept information for each COVID-19 case and contact on paper. As our disease investigation team called or texted COVID-19 cases or contacts, we used paper to collect the information, then entered it into the spreadsheet.

The new Leo system eliminates paper tracking and streamlines the data entry process and reduces the potential for mistakes.

The Leo case management system makes data sharing with partner agencies smoother, too. Information from Department of Health’s Washington Disease Reporting System will flow directly into our system.

Cases will get to our investigators faster and we’ll call you sooner. We can share resource requests from Pierce County residents in isolation or quarantine with our partner agencies in real time while still protecting private health information.

Our data sets will be cleaner, so they will need fewer corrections, and we will get you the data you depend on to understand more about COVID-19 in Pierce County.

Our new Leo Case Management System is one more example of our focus on innovation, public health leadership, and continuous quality improvement—even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department works to protect your health every day based on science and the latest understanding of COVID-19. With Leo, we’ll work smarter to continue to be your local, reliable source for health information.     

Please remember what you can do to avoid spreading COVID-19:

For more on our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 go to

A woman works on a spreadsheet at an office desk.