Analyzing Arizona – Poverty may be the key

All eyes seem to be on Arizona these days as this state has the highest rate of new cases per capita in the country at 222 per million per day.

Taking a deeper dive, the counties with extremely high fatality rates (practically off the charts) are Santa Cruz, Navajo and Yuma – with respectively 22, 21, and 17 fatalities per million per day. Granted the populations in these counties are not very large, which shows how this virus can rip through small populations very quickly.

CountyPopulationNew Cases / Day / millionFatalities Per Day / millionDominant Ethnicity
Santa Cruz47,000148422White (73%)
Navajo111,00063121Native American (47%)
Yuma214,00072517Hispanic / Latino (63%)
Apache71,00048716Native American (73%)
Various data for the top 3 counties with fatalities per million in Arizona

The counties with the highest populations in Arizona – Maricopa (4.5 million) and Pima (1 million) are broadly in line with the national average for fatalities – about 2 fatalities per million per day. However even in those counties, new case creation is far too high (at 204 and 159 per million per day respectively). It’s out of control!

For the worst affected counties (Santa Cruz, Navajo, Yuma, Apache) – the level of infection and fatalities is even further out of control.

Not Ethnicity – more likely Poverty

I expected to see ethnicity being a big factor – so was surprised to see that Santa Cruz is predominantly white – although I do not know if the portion infected or dead from COVID in Santa Cruz is in line with the overall demographics. We have to assume that it is.

One factor that is consistent in all of these counties is the high poverty rate. According to – the poverty rate of all counties is in excess of ~20%. Here are the results:

CountyPoverty Rate
Santa Cruz21.8%

By contrast, the largest county – with a fatality rate of 2 per million per day (one of the best in Arizona) has a poverty rate of 15.7%. Yavapi County with a population of 235,000 has about 1 fatality per million per day and a poverty rate of 14.7% – one of the lowest (it also has 80% white ethnicity which could also be a factor).

Why is COVID taking hold in these communities?

Perhaps there is less protective equipment (e.g. facemasks, hand sanitizer) etc in these communities, or perhaps they reopened too quickly thinking the peak had passed, or perhaps there is more crowded living accomodations in these communites; or perhaps a less healthy population in general as a result of lower income.

In Arizona – aside from seemingly poor covid management in general, locations of high poverty seem to be disproportionately driving the huge surge in cases and fatalities in those locations.

There has to be a POVERTY lessons learned from this state that can be applied to other states also.

2 thoughts on “Analyzing Arizona – Poverty may be the key

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