COVID deaths exceed heart disease and cancer in Arizona

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 7:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - According to the Arizona Public Health Association, Arizona is the only state in the country where COVID-19 deaths surpassed both heart disease and cancer in causes of death.

“To beat those two historical killers, that is a really meaningful statistic,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, the Public Health Director for the University of Arizona. “The extreme toll COVID-19 has taken on Arizona is not bad luck, it’s not bad geography, it’s bad policy.”

Arizona does not have a statewide mask mandate and it has legally challenged all vaccine mandates.

This comes as the state is seeing another spike in cases not only statewide but in Pima County as well.

The Arizona State Health Department’s data dashboard shows 551 cases reported in Pima County on Nov. 10, the highest number since February, when far fewer people were vaccinated.

“We know the underlying problem, not enough Arizonans are vaccinated and not enough are taking precautions,” he said.

Before the Delta variant began its ascent as the predominate variant in Arizona, it was thought a 70% vaccination would be enough to reach herd and stop the spread.

“The Delta variant changed everything,” Dr. Gerald said. “Now it’s around 90%.”

Arizona is still stuck in the low sixties, not near enough to stop the variant from spreading.

“COVID is literally killing us,” he said. “It’s crushing us here in Arizona.”

It’s raising concern about what might happen in the weeks ahead with Thanksgiving just weeks away and Christmas in the not too distant future.

“We’re not going to see what we saw last winter, it’s not going to be that bad,” Dr. Gerald said. “But it’s still going to be rough and it’s not going to be much solace to the people who’ve died.”

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