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Arizona Leads Nation In Rate Of Coronavirus Spread

Arizona has long been known for its five C’s: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. Now, the state leads the nation in a more troubling "C": coronavirus transmission. 

Arizona now leads the country in its per-capita rate of coronavirus spread, says Joshua LaBaer, director of ASU's Biodesign Institute.

The state far exceeds rates among its nearest competitors, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Hawaii, California and North Carolina.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona also ranks among the top four states in new cases per capita, with Yuma, Santa Cruz, Apache and Navajo counties hit especially hard.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 patients occupy roughly one in two hospital and ICU beds in the state, and some hospitals report staffing two beds per nurse.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.