Why is Arizona worst for COVID-19 nationwide? Here are 7 contributing reasons

A sign warns against the coronavirus near the Navajo town of Tuba City, Arizona, on May 24, 2020. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

By Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

For most of January, Arizona has had the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in a nation that has led the world in its number of positive cases and deaths.

And Arizona has also had one of the highest weekly rates of new COVID-19 deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: What new data tell us about COVID-19 outbreaks in Maricopa County schools / CDC makes not wearing mask on public transport a federal crime

During the first wave of the pandemic, Arizona also briefly topped the nation and the world for its COVID-19 case rate.

A second surge of illness is normal for the course of pandemic, but some critics argue it was not inevitable for Arizona to lead the nation in case rates for most of the past month. Known COVID-19 deaths in Arizona as of Friday had eclipsed 13,000.

Why Arizona has led the country during the latter part of the latest U.S. surge? Here are seven possible reasons:

Bars and restaurants remain open and Arizona does not have a statewide mask mandate

 Although Arizona has been in the midst of the worst COVID-19 surge since the pandemic began, bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms are all open, albeit with restrictions about capacity.

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