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COVID-19 edges out heart disease and cancer as Arizona's leading cause of death

COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death in Arizona during the pandemic.

According to a new report from the Arizona Public Health Association, COVID-19 beat out other leading causes such as heart disease and cancer in the state. 

The report counted COVID-19 deaths through Oct. 15 this year, and compared them to those other causes in 2019. That is because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not released detailed information for 2020. 

The report compared Arizona to Washington and Colorado, which have comparable population sizes. Arizona, at more than 20,000 deaths, has more COVID-19 fatalities than both of those states combined.

Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, says those states implemented stricter rules to slow the spread of the virus. 

“The governor not only did not include a face covering mandate. He also prohibited local jurisdictions from doing that. As a result we see the vast differences in deaths between similar states, Washington, Colorado and Arizona," he said.  “Our governor and our health director have been unwilling to use those simple tools in their tool chests: universal masking, better interventions at bars, restaurants and nightclubs, etc. And as a result, COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in Arizona,"

Other than those rules, he said vaccine hesitancy has only contributed. He says the delta variant also made things worse over the summer.

He said,  “Our governor and our health director have been unwilling to use those simple tools in their tool chests: universal masking, better interventions at bars, restaurants and nightclubs, etc. And as a result, COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in Arizona."

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.