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COVID-19 infection rates among Idaho kids rising rapidly

Vials of the Pfizer vaccine are ready to be administered at a health district vaccine clinic in Buhl
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
Vials of the Pfizer vaccine are prepared for a health district clinic in Buhl.

As the COVID-19 surge continues in Idaho, infections in kids are rising faster than in adults.

Nearly 1,700 COVID-19 cases were recorded in Idahoans younger than 18 last week. More kids are getting the virus now compared to last year, said Dr. Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist at Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“Infections among children have reached record levels in the past few weeks," Turner said during a call with reporters Tuesday, "and right now, 20% of all new cases being reported are infections in children.”

A graph shows a recent rise in COVID-19 cases among children.

Children are less likely to get very sick from COVID compared with adults. Still, more than 200 kids under 18 have been hospitalized in Idaho from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The result of these additional cases of COVID-19 in children has been increased pediatric hospitalizations," Turner said.

There are 21 pediatric ICU beds in Idaho. State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said she heard five of those beds were staffed and available earlier this week, though that number fluctuates frequently. Idaho also frequently sends pediatric ICU cases to hospitals in other states, even outside the pandemic.

Right now, vaccines are only available for kids 12 or older. In Idaho, between 30% and 40% of teens are fully vaccinated.

Health officials say the best way to protect children is for more people to get vaccinated, to wear masks and to get tested for COVID-19.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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