Deaths in Arizona jumped by 25%: What new data reveals about COVID-19

Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 1:18 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The number of deaths in Arizona jumped by 25% in 2020, according to new data released by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Unlike other states, death certificates are not public record in Arizona, which complicates efforts to determine trends in suicide, car crashes, cancer, heart disease and other causes of death. But the data clearly shows the distressing deadly toll of COVID-19.

CBS 5 Investigates went through 15 years of death records in Arizona, which reveal a number of trends.

2020 was Arizona’s deadliest year and the largest yearly increase in deaths in modern history, possibly ever.

  • 2019: 60,161 total deaths
  • 2020: 75,133 total deaths (10,179 of those deaths were connected to COVID-19)
  • An increase of 14,972 deaths or 25%
Arizona saw more than 75,000 deaths in 2020, up from just over 60,161 in 2019.
Arizona saw more than 75,000 deaths in 2020, up from just over 60,161 in 2019.(Arizona's Family)

The previous largest jump in total deaths was 2014-2015, when deaths rose by 6% in the state.

  • 2014: 51,074 total deaths
  • 2015: 54,152 total deaths
  • An increase of 3,078 deaths

The number of people who died in Arizona in one month set a new record in December 2020: 8,554. At the time of this article, 3,022 of those deaths were linked to COVID-19. This number could increase as the Arizona Department of Health Services evaluates more death certificates.

The number of people who died monthly, when compared year to year, broke records in 2020.

COVID-19 deaths in 2020
COVID-19 deaths in 2020(Arizona's Family)

Going back through five years of data, deaths typically increased by less than 300 people per month. Death rates during the summer surge of positive COVID-19 cases shattered records with the number of dead growing by the thousands.

New COVID-19 cases by week
New COVID-19 cases by week(Arizona's Family)

The summer increase in deaths demonstrates the correlation: When the number of positive COVID-19 cases increases, the number of deaths increases. It’s a simple line of reasoning but one that makes Arizona’s current situation increasingly concerning. Arizona currently has more positive cases than at any previous point during the pandemic, which means January and February could be the most deadly months our state has ever experienced.

Increase in deaths from 2019 to 2020
Increase in deaths from 2019 to 2020(Arizona's Family)

Arizona’s population growth is 1.5%. Deaths increased by 25% in 2020, which takes the wind out of the argument that the death rate is higher because more people are moving to the state.