Report ranks Arizona first in US for rate of COVID-19 deaths

By Lux Butler | Cronkite News

PHOENIX — Arizona had the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths across the country over three years, according to a research analysis published in March in the medical journal The Lancet.

“I think Arizona is a state with inequality, some poverty, and ultimately some of the vaccination rates and behaviors weren’t appropriate for good outcomes,” Joseph Dieleman, professor and senior author of the study, said in a video message release.

According to researchers in a peer-reviewed study, Arizona residents were less likely to get vaccinated, wear masks and practice social distancing.

The study states that from January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2022, Arizona recorded 581 deaths per 100,000 people, by far the highest rate among states in the US, where the national rate was 372 deaths per 100,000. Hawaii had the lowest rate at 147 per 100,000.

According to the report, Arizona’s death rate was similar to that of the three nations with the world’s highest coronavirus death rates — Russia, Bulgaria and Peru.

The study adjusted state death rates to account for age differences in each state’s population. But even at the unadjusted rate, Arizona was fourth-highest at 539 deaths per 100,000, behind West Virginia at 575, Mississippi at 550 and Alabama at 540.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services website, 33,225 Arizonans have died from COVID-19 in three years. ADHD officials did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

“The more resilient a health care system, the better a state has done in the pandemic, but only in states where the public has been willing to seek health care services for immunizations or to have their illnesses treated early,” said Dieleman, a fellow Professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in a statement to Axios.

The study also aligns with previous research that found Latinos and blacks are more likely to die from COVID-19 than other racial groups. According to ADHD data, one in four Arizonans who died was Hispanic, which is higher than the percentage of people who identify as Hispanic on the census.

The Lancet researchers analyzed other factors such as poverty rates, education levels, access to quality healthcare and levels of interpersonal trust to better understand the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The higher the poverty rate and the lower the average level of education in a state, the more infections it recorded.

The Census Bureau said nearly 13% of Arizonans lived in poverty in 2022, compared to 11% for the US as a whole. Nationwide, nearly 34% of people had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31% in Arizona.

“This report is great because it really confirms and validates the things that we’ve been thinking about,” said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association. “It takes away the argument that our state only has an older population and that’s why we’ve had high COVID death counts, and instead looks at the bigger picture.”

The report also describes how race plays a role in the number of COVID deaths and illnesses.

“Many of the worst-performing states and territories in our study are also those with the highest populations of people who identify as Black (Washington, DC; Mississippi and Georgia), Hispanic (Arizona and New Mexico), or Native American and Alaskan Native ( Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Wyoming and Montana),” the researchers wrote in The Lancet report.

COVID-19 keeps killing. ADHD regularly reports virus updates.

At least 27 people have died since March 5.


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