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Health and Welfare officials announce first COVID-19 child death in Idaho

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The SARS-CoV-2 molecule has a “spike protein” that it uses to hook into and invade certain cells in the body. (Courtesy of the CDC)

An infant in Idaho died of COVID-19 in October, Idaho Health and Welfare officials announced Tuesday, confirming it was the first death of an Idaho child due to infection from the virus.

State and local health officials said to protect the grieving family’s privacy, they would not publicly release more specific details

“Our hearts go out to the family of this child,” Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the Idaho Division of Public Health, said in a written statement. “Infection with the virus can have devastating impacts on families, and this situation highlights the seriousness of COVID-19.”

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Southwest District Health officials jointly announced the child’s death in a news release posted at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Southwest District Health is one of Idaho’s seven independent public health districts. It serves Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties.

“We were saddened to hear of the loss of one of our newest community members. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time,” Southwest District Health director Nikki Zogg said in a written statement.

Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho state epidemiologist, said in a news briefing Tuesday that Idaho has recorded two stillbirths of babies for whom COVID-19 or a recent COVID-19 infection was listed on the death certificate as a cause or underlying cause of death.

Hahn said that in 2021, Idaho had four COVID-related deaths of mothers who had babies at home. The state also recorded 37 deaths of women of childbearing age in 2021, up from six such deaths in 2020.

Idaho Department Health and Welfare officials noted that COVID-19 vaccines are not available for infants. However, they recommended that parents and prospective parents including pregnant mothers receive the COVID-19 vaccine to protect parents from becoming severely ill and to protect children and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

For information on where to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s COVID-19 vaccine website or the Boston Children’s Hospital/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online vaccine finder.

Although this was the first confirmed death of an Idaho child due to COVID-19, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials said there have been nearly 900 COVID-19-related deaths among U.S. children reported since the start of the pandemic.

Since Gov. Brad Little announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Idaho on March 13, 2020, the state has reported 3,678 deaths due to COVID-19, as of Monday afternoon.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.