COVID and Arizona
Living in Arizona, COVID has become politicized.

In Arizona, COVID and the distressing statistics the media ignores are so frightening.

I live in Arizona and I am terrified of COVID-19 and the coming tsunami of deaths. That is because I looked deeper into the statistics.

The handful of times I ventured into public spaces, I saw families with infants and toddlers in tow, and none of them were wearing masks. The children often run through the aisles and touch anything they can reach. Traffic on the streets indicates that people aren’t staying at home. Restaurants serve patrons without masks. Coworkers are petitioning my employer to end work at home.

It’s insane.

It’s not the published statistics that are so frightening. It’s the numbers they aren’t publishing that are distressing.

The latest figure was reported as the state saw its highest daily increase in new virus cases, with 4,878 reported on Wednesday, July 1. At the time, Arizona’s overall test-positivity rate had risen to 12.4 percent.  The ICUs are nearly full. The state of Arizona is adding as many new daily cases as the EU with 60 times the population.


Read that again.

Dig deeper the surface and the statistics are more alarming.

COVID and the Grand Canyon State

Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash

Arizona is known for it’s wide expanses of desert wilderness. Think of it as geographical distancing.

For years, I lived in the tiny town of Page, Arizona which was a 2.5 hour drive to the nearest city of any size. Travel outside of Phoenix or Tucson, and it’s miles of empty desert and easy to find yourself in a remote location. Apparently, COVID doesn’t care about how far away you live from the metropolitan areas or the heat, either.

Arizona is the 15th largest in population of all the US states and territories. This works out to less than 60 people per square mile compared to the EU with 87 people per square mile. So, not only does the EU have a much higher population, they are also more densely packed.

In short, Arizona is spread out. Driving from one end of the state to the other takes about 8 hours.

What About Phoenix and COVID?

Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

The sprawling urban center of the Phoenix metropolitan area encompasses approximately 500 square miles with a population density of 3,290 per square mile.

Now, compare that figure to Greater London at about 600 square miles, or 14,550 residents per square mile.

Got the picture? About the same geographical area but a whole lot more people live in London.

London had 27,600 cases in a city of 8 million people compared to the entire state of Arizona’s with 84,000 in a population of 7 million.

London has more than four times the people crammed together in a city of comparable size, and a million more in population, but the entire state of Arizona has three times the COVID cases.

To put a finer point on it, Arizona has no mass transit system like London where thousands of commuters come in contact with each other. Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world, while Sky Harbor barely ranks in the top ten for America alone. There are many more international travelers moving through London than Phoenix — and yet significantly fewer cases.

That’s Not the Worst of It — We Have Stupid People

There is one more startling revelation I want to share with you.

Because of it’s low cost of living and mild winters, Arizona is also a popular retirement area. We have a large population of “snowbirds” — Baby Boomers who flee the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan to spend their winters in the southwest, but not long enough to qualify as a resident.

In the state, the official median age is 38, with 18% over age 65, the demographic most at risk of dying from COVID-19. And more than 10% of the population has no health insurance. The figures with snowbirds are much worse.

To create the perfect storm, we need only add that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) confirms the pandemic is “brutal” but he won’t mandate wearing masks.

Why is that? Because Arizona is a red state, one that not only supported Trump’s election, but hosted rallies. Many believe not wearing masks is their constitutional right. My own Republican family members think that because they have yet to get sick, it is proof that COVID-19 is a “hoax.” So even when cities do mandate mask wearing, it’s not enforced.

This sentiment is echoed throughout Arizona. And this is why the numbers being reported are so frightening. Locals will not accept the validity of the pandemic until it is upon them, the hospitals are overwhelmed, or people are literally dying in the streets.

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Shelly Fagan

Shelly Fagan is a freelance writer living in Arizona. She is passionate about American politics, business, universal basic income and worker rights. Follow her on Twitter @FaganWrites or on Medium at

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