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,” she added.
Nationwide, nearly 900 COVID-19-related deaths in children have been reported since the pandemic began. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare did not identify the infant or make public the infant’s age or other details in an effort to protect the privacy of the baby’s grieving family.
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 the 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, according to health officials.
Vaccination clinics for kids ages 5 to 11 are being held in some 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.
About 44% of the state’s residents are 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.