COVID-19 is Arizona's leading cause of death as cases rise, Arizona Public Health Association says

Arizona on Nov. 13 reported nearly 4,000 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as virus-related hospitalizations remained near peaks seen during the autumn surge.

The 3,985 additional cases and 51 additional deaths reported by the Department of Health Services’ coronavirus dashboard raised the state’s pandemic totals to 1,211,333 cases and 21,651 deaths.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations during the current surge initially peaked in early September before gradually rising again starting in late October.

The dashboard reported that 2,100 COVID-19 patients occupied hospital inpatient beds on Friday, surpassed only by the surge’s latest peak of 2,113 on Wednesday and the earlier peak of 2,103 on Sept. 11.

According to John Hopkins University data, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks, rising from 2,574.4 on Oct. 28 to 3,494.7 on Thursday.

The rolling average of daily deaths dropped during the same period, falling from 57.4 to 36.

COVID-19 becomes leading cause of death in Arizona

Arizona is the only state where COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death.

Health officials are still urging people to take precautions, especially as we head into the busy holiday season

Leticia Cordero and her son Jonathan took advantage of a free vaccine and testing event in Phoenix on Nov. 13. Now that children aged 5 and older can get the shot, she says she can breathe a little easier.

"Both dad and I are vaccinated so we just wanted to make sure that our son was also vaccinated," Cordero said.

So far, more than 60% of the state is vaccinated – that's more than 8.5 million Arizonans.

A report released by the Arizona Public Health Association finds COVID-19 to be the leading cause of death in the state. Nationally, COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death, just behind cancer and heart disease, the organization said.

"Arizona is the only state that has this dubious distinction of having COVID-19 be the leading cause of death throughout the pandemic," said Will Humble, Executive Director for the Arizona Public Health Association.

Why Arizona? "It’s not bad luck folks, it’s not," Humble said.

He says the answer comes down to a few reasons.

"One is our COVID masking and vaccination policies were more relaxed than other states. Another is that the delta virus hit Arizona particularly hard. And also, that our heart disease and cancer death rates are more constant, to begin with, possibly thanks to strict tobacco laws that promote a healthier lifestyle," Humble said.

Adding, "So the combination of having good tobacco control along with horrible decisions around COVID-19 led us to be the top in the entire country when it comes to this category."

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers


In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

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