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COVID-19 becomes the leading cause of death in Idaho

As of Wednesday, 1,125 Idahoans have died of COVID-19. The state has seen a total of 97,676 confirmed cases since March.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2020, file photo, Certified Nursing Assistant Angelica Corral constantly changes her personal protective equipment (PPE) as she travels from room to room at the El Paso Long Term Acute Care hospital in central El Paso, Texas. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP, File)

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced on Thursday that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death across the state.

The sobering statistic was discovered by compiling preliminary data collected from death certificates this year. The full report on deaths among Idaho residents is available online here. 

"These data are concerning and clearly demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 in the worst possible way," said Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch. "My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone they love to COVID-19. This exemplifies why it's so important to follow the recommended COVID-19 precautions to protect ourselves and others and wear a mask, be six feet away from people who don't live with you, wash your hands, and stay home as much as possible, especially when you are sick." 

RELATED: Live at noon: Gov. Brad Little to give an update on the state of COVID-19 pandemic in Idaho

As of Wednesday, 1,125 Idahoans have died of COVID-19. The state has seen a total of 97,676 confirmed cases since March. 

By contrast, 32 people have died from influenza-related illness in the state this year, according to IDHW data.

According to Health and Welfare, leading causes of death are based on the underlying cause of death - "the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person's death." The IDHW data may not match the data presented on Idaho's coronavirus.idaho.gov website, because COVID-19 deaths in which COVID-19 was the underlying cause are a smaller subset than COVID-19 deaths as a whole.

RELATED: Idaho COVID-19 latest: Over 2,200 new cases reported Wednesday, setting a new single-day record

"The data collected from death certificates provide important insight as to how causes of death relate to each other and, in this case, help us to understand the health impact of COVID-19 to Idaho citizens," said Pam Harder, data analyst in the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics in the Division of Public Health.

Health and Welfare also noted that the numbers for 2020 are preliminary, as the year is not over yet and 2% of this year's records are still pending investigation.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little is set to address the state at noon to provide updates on the fight against coronavirus.

RELATED: Fauci: US near normal by end of 2021 if 75-80% get coronavirus vaccine

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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