PHOENIX (AP) — As summer starts, Maricopa County officials say there have already been four heat-related deaths this year.
Maricopa County Department of Public Health issued a heat report this week, which the agency will compile every week between now and October while temperatures soar.
Officials for Arizona's most populous county say the first one occurred April 11. But more than a dozen others are under investigation for possibly being heat-driven.
Throughout Phoenix and the greater metro area, the county has already set up multiple cooling centers and hydration stations.
Officials are also reminding the public to stay indoors with air conditioning whenever possible, keep water nearby and drink even when not thirsty.
Protecting those who are homeless from the heat remains an ongoing dilemma in Phoenix. The city is caught between two lawsuits over clearing a downtown tent city. Local advocates are trying to find more shelter space as triple-digit days approach.
More than a fifth of hospital visits for heat-related illness last week were patients who were homeless, according to county reports.
Another county report said there were 425 “heat-associated” deaths last year. That is a 25% increase from 2021. More than half of those deaths happened in July, the month when temperatures can be at their worst.
This story has been updated to correct that there have been four heat-related deaths in the Phoenix area this year, not 425. There were 425 heat-related deaths in 2022.