BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho infant died of COVID-19 last month, marking the state's first pediatric coronavirus death, officials said Tuesday.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this child,” Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the Idaho Division of Public Health, said in a statement. "Infection with the virus can have devastating impacts on families, and this situation highlights the seriousness of COVID-19.
The infant had not yet reached their first birthday, and was from the Southwest District Health region — an area that includes Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington counties. But the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare declined to release the baby's name or any other details in an effort to protect the privacy of the baby's grieving family.
Nationwide, nearly 900 COVID-19-related deaths in children have been reported since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 vaccinations were recently approved for children ages 5 through 11, but younger children are not allowed to be vaccinated against the illness.
About 260 children and youths under the age of 18 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Idaho since the pandemic began, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
At least 37 children infected with coronavirus in the state have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, a serious illness that can happen to people about four weeks after being infected.
The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Idaho has dropped by nearly 39% over the past two weeks, but the state still has one of the highest per-capita infection rates in the nation, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. One in 364 Idaho residents tested positive for coronavirus last week, ranking the state 12th in the U.S. for new cases per capita.
Since the pandemic began, at least 3,678 state residents have died from the virus.
Vaccination clinics for kids aged 5 through 11 are being held in many parts of the state. Boise State University announced Tuesday that it had started taking appointments for pediatric vaccinations, with emotional support animals available this week to comfort children while they get shots. Health care providers in eastern Idaho were holding a drive-thru clinic where kids can get vaccinated while their parents get booster shots.
About 44% of the state's residents area fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly half of Idaho's residents have received at least one vaccine dose. So far, more than 2,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received their first COVID-19 shot in Idaho.