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Arizona medical examiner’s office at 106% capacity, brings in refrigeration units amid deadly heat wave

The surge in deaths in Maricopa County came during a record heat wave.

The coroner’s office in Maricopa County, Arizona, was overwhelmed and forced to install refrigeration equipment after the death toll soared this month during a record heatwave, officials said.

It’s the first time since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that the Maricopa County coroner’s office has required additional coolers for a dead person. As of Thursday, office occupancy was at 106% of normal, according to the company. Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV-TV.

A Maricopa County spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News Thursday evening that 10 individual refrigeration units have been sent to the coroner’s office to increase capacity as needed. A spokeswoman said the cooler was installed near an office in downtown Phoenix but had not yet been used.

“Usually July sees a spike in visits to the Office of Medical Examiners (OME), but this year was worse than usual,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “At Maricopa County, we don’t wait until a difficult situation becomes a crisis and then react. That’s what careful planning is all about. “These coolers have not yet been used. OME staff are working diligently to conduct an investigation and resolve the incident.”

A spokeswoman said it wasn’t immediately clear how many of the recent deaths were heat-related because the coroner’s office takes time to confirm and report each cause and circumstances of death.

The Maricopa County Public Health Department on Wednesday released data showing a total of 24 heat-related deaths in the county so far this year, with an additional 249 deaths under investigation.

The Arizona capital is now experiencing record temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit for 28 straight days. Nighttime temperatures in Phoenix set a record for 16 days in a row this month, not falling below 90 degrees Celsius. The city also set a daily record of 119 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

Friday’s weather forecast calls for continued hot weather in the southwestern United States, with temperatures expected to reach 113 degrees Celsius in Phoenix. The heat is expected to continue into the weekend, though temperatures through Sunday and Monday are not expected to be as hot as in recent weeks.

The National Weather Service issued heat warnings for all 35 states from California to Maine starting Friday morning.

North America, Europe and China throughout the month, according to a rapid attribution analysis by World Weather Attribution, an academic collaborating group that uses weather observations and climate models to calculate how climate change will impact The resulting heatwave would not have happened without global warming. The intensity and likelihood of extreme weather. In some areas, sweltering temperatures have led to wildfire outbreaks, as well as heat-related hospitalizations and deaths, researchers said.

Kenton Gewecke, Melissa Griffin, Julia Jacobo, and Dan Peck of ABC News contributed to this report.

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