IDHW data shows younger Idahoans dying of COVID at higher rate than before

A COVID-19 patient gets treatment in the intensive care unit at Saint Alphonsus in Boise on Sept. 22. Melissa Davlin/Idaho Reports.

While those older than 65 continue to be most affected by the Delta-driven COVID surge, for weeks, Idaho healthcare workers and officials have been warning that more and more unvaccinated younger patients are being admitted to ICUs across the state.

Now, the state has data to show how the latest Delta-driven surge is affecting those younger than 60. 

Idaho Reports looked at the demographic information for Idahoans whose deaths were reported to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare between September 1 and September 30. While people older than 60 still account for the highest number of deaths, younger people are dying at an increased rate, and are making up a higher proportion of deaths than they did earlier in the pandemic.

Deaths reported to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare between Sept. 1-30. Note: These are deaths reported during the month of September, not all of the deaths that occurred during the time period.
Source: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Of the 536 deaths added in September, 114 were Idahoans between the ages of 18 and 59. That’s one out of every five.

From the beginning of the pandemic in spring 2020 to the start of September, IDHW had recorded 17 decedents in their 30s. By the end of the month, that number had nearly doubled to 31 — an 82 percent increase.

During that same month, the number of decedents in their 40s rose 53 percent, from 51 to 78. Those in their 50s rose 59 percent, from 121 to 192. 

IDHW recorded two decedents in their 20s in September, increasing the total from 8 to 10. 

Until late summer, the vast majority of those who have died from COVID-19 were older than 60. That continued to be the case; In September, IDHW reported the deaths of 422 people older than 60. That was an increase of 19 percent. 

It’s important to note this data is incomplete; There’s a difference between deaths reported to the state in September, and Idahoans who died in that time. The department won’t have the latter number until later in October, said Greg Stahl, public information officer for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. And some of those deaths were from weeks earlier; At one point, the department added a couple dozen deaths to the tally that had occurred out-of-state throughout the summer, which skewed the daily count.

Still, most of those 536 reported deaths did occur in September, and that demographic information gives us the clearest picture of how the Delta variant is increasingly affecting people younger than 60. 

That’s in part because of low vaccination rates among people younger than 60. While COVID continues to be deadlier for older people, Idahoans ages 65 and older have a 77.6 percent vaccination rate. The percentage of fully vaccinated Idaho adults younger than 65 is just 54 percent, far lower than the national average of 66.8 percent. 

Thankfully, no Idaho children have died of COVID-19, though this week, hospital and public health officials reported an increase in both hospitalizations and cases among kids, as well as an increase in fetal death and stillbirths among COVID-positive mothers. Read more at the Idaho Capital Sun.

Right now, children are accounting for about 25 percent of new cases statewide. At earlier points in the pandemic, they accounted for 10 percent.

Children younger than 12 are not currently eligible to get the vaccine. Dr. Kenny Bramwell of St. Luke’s Health System told reporters Wednesday that unvaccinated teens are currently hospitalized at a rate ten times higher than those who are vaccinated.

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