I’m just really angry’: Arizona COVID-19 deaths increased by 24% this year

By Stephanie Innes, Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

COVID-19 has already killed more Arizonans this year than in 2020, and indicators point to the death toll continuing into 2022.

Two weeks from the end of the year, the known death tally from COVID-19 in Arizona as of Dec. 16 stood at 12,915, which is 24% higher than the 10,395 COVID-19 deaths recorded by the state during 2020.

Among the more recent deaths: a 13-year-old eighth-grade student from Buckeye; a 67-year-old musician who lived in Show Low; a 44-year-old Cardinals fan from Litchfield Park; and a 91-year-old mother and grandmother who died three weeks short of her 92nd birthday, which she’d been looking forward to celebrating.

“I’m angry, I’m just really angry because it was pointless,” said Mesa resident Sharon Epley, whose fully vaccinated 91-year-old mother, Lieselotte “Lilo” Epley, died Sept. 28 of COVID-19. “Probably some unvaccinated person came in and brought the delta variant into the nursing home, and all six residents, all of them, got COVID, and my mom passed away from COVID. … I could not say goodbye, I could not spend time with her. It was horrible. She didn’t deserve that.”

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