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How Idaho counts confirmed COVID-19 cases

"Local public health districts may be announcing cases of COVID-19 that are not reflected in the state’s numbers."

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: In the above video, Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn answers viewer questions about the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.

We have received many questions from viewers regarding the accuracy of the confirmed coronavirus cases reported on the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website.

Local public health districts may be confirming cases of coronavirus that have not been submitted to the state as a precautionary measure for the people in that area, according to Niki Forbing-Orr, the public information officer for IDHW.

All 50 states in the U.S. have agreed upon a nationwide practice for confirming cases. This practice has been utilized since 2003 to ensure that all local and state cases are accurate.

If a case of coronavirus is confirmed in an out of state resident, state-level epidemiologists reach out to the patient's state of residence to confirm information about the case and begin an investigation to determine if other individuals in the area were exposed to the patients, according to Forbing-Orr.

Idaho coronavirus latest: Real-time COVID-19 updates | Map of confirmed Idaho cases | COVID-19 resources | Testing sites | School closings | Building, venue and event closings | Full COVID-19 coverage  

Although the cases are confirmed in the city or county, they may not be reflected in the state numbers until local public health officials submit records through the statewide disease tracking system, according to Forbing-Orr.

"The state does not count cases of disease the local public health districts have not yet determined to be confirmed though investigations and submitted to the state," Forbing-Orr wrote. "This is standard practice for all communicable diseases and done, in part, to ensure we count cases only among Idaho residents. The state of residence may not be immediately clear, for example, if someone who is a resident of another state becomes sick in Idaho and gets tested in Idaho."

Forbing-Orr and other IDHW officials are advising those with questions about cases in a specific area to refer to that area's public health district.

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At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus 

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