Tracking the coronavirus: Why Idaho’s numbers don’t match


The state of Idaho is reporting 50 coronavirus cases statewide.

The state’s seven public health districts are reporting 76 cases.

How come?

The state Department of Health and Welfare only adds coronavirus cases to its count after the local health districts finish their investigations and submit the results to the state.

“The local public health districts may be announcing cases of COVID-19 among people who were tested in their communities before they have been submitted to the state as a confirmed case out of an abundance of caution and to communicate that people in Idaho might have been exposed,” Health and Welfare says in an explanation on its coronavirus page.

Health and Welfare uses this approach, in part, to make sure the state count includes only Idaho residents. And Health and Welfare says this is standard practice, used to track all communicable diseases.

Of course, as the global coronavirus pandemic reaches into Idaho, the state and local COVID-19 numbers are under unprecedented public scrutiny. And some of the gaps between the state and local numbers can be jarring. In Blaine County — hardest hit by the coronavirus so far — the state has counted 21 cases, while the South Central Public Health District counts 36 cases.

As Idaho Education News continue to cover the coronavirus outbreak, we will use both the state and health district reports to track the case numbers.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday