Taking a look at what new data reveals about COVID-19 deaths in our state.

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.

CDC forecasts up to 100,000 more Covid-19 deaths in the next few weeks

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.

2020: 75,133 total deaths

2019: 60,161 total deaths

An increase of 14,972 deaths or 25%.

Total deaths in Arizona

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.

COVID-19 deaths 2020

75,133 people died in Arizona in 2020.

10,179 of those deaths were connected to COVID-19.

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 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.

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.

Summer surge deaths

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 2020 vs 2019

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.

Award-winning journalist Kris Pickel anchors CBS 5's evening and late newscasts alongside veteran broadcaster Sean McLaughlin.


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