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Kelly Chatterton works with a non-COVID patient in the intensive care unit of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

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BOISE — Idaho has released new cause-of-death data showing that while COVID-19 has become the third-leading cause of death in the state for the year, it’s moved to No. 1 for the month of November.

According to data released Thursday morning by the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, COVID-19 ranked third for the leading cause of death among Idahoans in September, after heart disease and cancer; stayed third in October; and then moved up to first in November.

On Wednesday, state Health & Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen called COVID-19’s quick move up the ranks of causes of death for Idahoans “startling” and “deeply concerning.”

Idaho’s vital statistics reporting uses only those deaths in which COVID-19 was the primary cause, not a contributing cause. As a result, the cause-of-death data shows fewer total deaths from COVID-19 than the state reports in its official coronavirus data.

Idaho is just starting to see the impact of the Thanksgiving surge, with new records set both Tuesday and Wednesday of more than 2,000 new infections statewide each day. Thursday added another 1,825, plus 33 new deaths.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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