Nearly 500 Idaho children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19

More children with COVID-19 are being hospitalized in Idaho. Idaho hospitals are seeing the most cases of COVID-19 in children since the start of the pandemic.


When Javier Castaneda, the principal of Heritage Community Charter School in Caldwell, died of COVID-19 last month at the age of 48, he left behind seven children.

Natalie Rise, a nurse in North Idaho, who died in August of COVID-19 at the age of 46, left behind 10-year-old twins.

More than 3,100 Idahoans have died of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic began. While we often focus on the loss of life and keep a running tally of Idaho’s death toll, what we talk less about are the people left behind — in particular, the children of those who have passed.

More than 140,000 U.S. children lost a parent or caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published last week by the medical journal Pediatrics. In Idaho, that number is 497.

“This is a huge red flag for everybody, both policymakers and the public, to recognize that this is going to have incredible impacts on children, not only now but throughout the rest of their life,” Hillarie Hagen, policy specialist at Idaho Voices for Children, said in a phone interview.

“It’s shown just huge economic impacts as well as health impacts for kids.” While the majority of deaths from COVID-19 are among people older than 70, we are starting to see the age of COVID-19 patients and deaths come down. In Idaho, the mean age of those who have died of COVID-19 has dropped from 78 last December to 71 this September. Now, 11% of the COVID-related deaths in Idaho, 353 people, are younger than 60.

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