Coronavirus could soon become leading cause of death in Arizona, researcher warns

Could the novel coronavirus become the leading cause of death in Arizona? 

During an update on the coronavirus pandemic, members of Arizona State University’s COVID-19 modeling team warned that it is likely. 

In an average year, about 12,000 Arizona residents die from heart disease, and another 12,000 die of cancer, said Dr. Josh LaBaer, the executive director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, according to local news station AZFamily. But coronavirus-related deaths in the state surpassed 10,855, according to current estimates.  So COVID-19 could soon become the leading cause of death, he said. 

“We are seeing an extraordinary number of new cases a day and that’s a pretty frightening position to be in,” said LaBaer.

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To significantly slow the spread of the novel virus in the state, and ultimately see a reduction in coronavirus deaths, LaBaer said at least 50% of residents will need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

But the rollout of the vaccine in the state has been slow — much like it has across the country.

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 “I’m a little worried that everybody is seduced by the fact that there are vaccines starting to roll out. But keep in mind, the number of people getting vaccinated right now is tiny. We are vaccinating nowhere near the number of people that it would take to have an impact on the spread of the virus in our community right now,” LaBaer said, noting that an estimated 80% of Arizonians will need to receive the vaccine in order to prevent a future coronavirus outbreak. 

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