COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in Idaho

DHW Communications

The Department of Health and Welfare has announced that COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in Idaho for November, based on preliminary data collected from death certificates. It is the third leading cause of death from January 2020 through November 2020.

The data on Idaho’s leading causes of death are available at:

“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.”

The department will update the data monthly.

Leading causes of death are based on the underlying cause of death, which is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person's death. Covid-19 deaths in which Covid-19 was the underlying cause of death are a subset of Covid-19 related deaths which are shown on Idaho's website, and therefore, will not match the mortality counts on the website.

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.

It is also important to note there is lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to be processed for underlying cause of death, and returned to the state of occurrence for reporting purposes. Approximately 2% of records in 2020 are pending investigation or the underlying cause is in the process of being determined for analysis; these deaths may be Covid-19 or non-Covid-19.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

Media contacts:
Niki Forbing-Orr, Public Information Manager

(208) 334-0668