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Maricopa County is investigating 243 potentially heat-related deaths in 2020

Posted at 6:45 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 21:45:33-04

PHOENIX — Excessive heat is especially dangerous for the elderly and the unsheltered.

Valley veteran Miles Oliver was overcome by heat in May. At the time he was living in his car and working as a pizza delivery driver.

"It all caved on me right there in the middle of the delivery, the first delivery. I couldn't breathe. I was shaking. I was cold. I was vomiting. And I was in pain," he said.

He says he drove around for a bit to find a place to park and sleep but couldn't cool off. "I wind up going over to the curb and just passed out on the concrete," he said.

Oliver says he spent three days in the hospital.

Maricopa County Public Health Department has recorded at least 30 heat-related deaths since April 13 and is investigating 243 potentially heat-related deaths as of August 15 in 2020.

During the same timeframe in 2019, the agency says it was looking into 132.

A county spokesperson sent a statement saying in part, "This increase in frequency of days with hotter temperatures increases the risk of heat-related illness and death, especially among vulnerable populations."

80% of those deaths have happened outside. A fact that isn't lost on Oliver. "It was very agonizing because it was not that I was just feeling overwhelmed, but I was actually feeling pain," he said.

For now, Oliver is keeping cool at Justa Center which works with people experiencing homelessness who are 55 years and older, but is hoping now that his health is in order, he can get the basics taken care of.

"I need a jumpstart. Fixed car, a nice house and a good job," he said.

If you need somewhere to stay cool during the heat, we've set up a map of cooling stations below.