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Maricopa County confirms the first heat-related deaths of this year

Heat contributed to the deaths of two people in Maricopa County in late April, according to new data released by county public health officials Thursday. They are the first heat-related deaths to be confirmed for 2024. Another 42 possible heat deaths are under investigation.

"This tells us that even when temperatures are not extremely high, we still see heat-related illnesses and deaths, and all Maricopa County residents and visitors need to be aware of the risks," the Maricopa County Department of Public Health stated in a press release. 

Phoenix temperatures have averaged about 1.6 degrees above normal so far in May, according to the National Weather Service. 

The National Weather Service predicts Phoenix is likely to see above-average temperatures throughout June, July and August. 

Heat-related deaths in Maricopa County have  skyrocketed in recent years. Last year’s record-hot temperatures killed an  unprecedented 645 people — a 700% increase from just a decade earlier.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.