ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs explains timing of heat state of emergency

Aug 16, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: 2:52 pm

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs clarified why she declared a heat state of emergency two weeks after the hottest month in Phoenix history.

“As with any emergency, that is retroactive and there are specific criteria that allow us to declare or not, which is why it only covers three counties,” Hobbs said at an event in Phoenix on Tuesday.

As a result, qualifying government entities can submit receipts for expenses during that time and can be reimbursed from state emergency and other funds.

Only three counties — Maricopa, Pinal and Coconino — were under the declaration’s umbrella since extreme heat advisories were in effect there by the National Weather Service.

What’s the connected executive order meant for?

An executive order in conjunction with the declaration, both announced Friday, provides heat relief for Arizona’s remaining 12 counties and will prepare the state for the future, according to Hobbs.

“In terms of the executive order, we’re looking forward and we have been working closely with organizations, nonprofits and government entities that are addressing heat issues,” Hobbs said.

The executive order also opens two new cooling centers on Capitol Mall grounds and creates two heat relief facilities in the same area.

Heat-associated deaths continue to rise

Even though temperatures aren’t as extreme as in July, heat-associated deaths continue to swell in metro Phoenix.

Maricopa County Department of Public Health has now confirmed 89 heat-associated deaths in 2023, according to the agency’s weekly report for Aug. 6- Aug. 12. The total was up by 30 from the previous week.

Phoenix is under an excessive heat warning through Thursday night.

July’s average temperature of 102.7 degrees smashed the previous monthly record average of 99.1 degrees in August 2020.

“The state needs to be a better partner and this executive order will help us going forward be a better partner and plan more comprehensively for the next season,” Hobbs said.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs explains timing of heat state of emergency