More Arizonans Died In June And July 2020 Than In Previous Years

Published: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 11:18am
Updated: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 11:19am

June and July were especially deadly months for Arizonans compared to the same time in previous years. COVID-19 is one reason why. A recent report shows other factors may have contributed to the spike in deaths. 

Will Humble is the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association. His group looked at 10 years of vital statistics from the state health department.

"The increase for July is 58% higher than we would expect in a normal year, clearly, indirectly and directly attributable to COVID-19."

More than 7,900 Arizonans died this past July, compared to roughly 4,900 last year.

"But I think there are two other things at work, as well. One of those is the fact that people have been delaying care," Humble said. 

Like for chest pain. 

"And then finally, the fact that many elective procedures couldn't be done over the course of the summer, so all those three things contribute to increased deaths," he said.

Humble says the August numbers could look a lot like July when they come out later this month. 

Another aspect of this story are death certificates.

Death certificates can be complicated. They're not always straightforward. And in the age of COVID-19, that can lead to confusion and even misinformation. 

Humble says, for example, if a person has COPD, then contracts COVID-19 and later dies, "well, that death certificate will have both COVID-19 on it, and the previous diagnosis of COPD, because it is the combination of both the COPD and the virus, the viral infection that caused the person to pass on."

Humble says he’s seen death certificates list three or four causes of death.