County Confirms 645 Heat-Associated Deaths In Metro Phoenix Last Year

"PHOENIX — Public health officials in Arizona’s most populous county on Wednesday reported they confirmed a staggering 645 heat-associated deaths last year — more than 50% higher than 2022 and another consecutive annual record in arid metro Phoenix.

The numbers in the preliminary report by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health alarmed officials in America’s hottest big metro, raising concerns about how to better protect vulnerable groups such as homeless people and older adults from the blistering summer heat.

The report said two-thirds of the county’s heat-related deaths in 2023 were people 50 years or older, and 71% were on days the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning.

“Deaths from heat are a major public health issue within our community, and it’s going to take support from every level to improve the situation,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the county public health department’s medical director. “With a coordinated county-wide strategy, nearly every one of these deaths can be prevented.”"

Anita Snow reports for the Associated Press March 13, 2024.

Source: AP, 03/14/2024