Confirmations of heat-related deaths continue to rise in Maricopa County amid a punishing hot spell with 110-degree Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) plus weather persisting for a record 20 days so far.

Public health officials in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, reported Wednesday that there were six more heat-associated fatalities confirmed last week, bringing the year’s total so far to 18.

All six of those deaths didn’t necessarily occur last week. Some may have occurred in earlier weeks but were not confirmed as heat-associated until after a thorough investigation.

Whether you live in Europe or are just visiting as a tourist, authorities have a recommendation: Stay inside. It’s too hot.

This summer’s punishing heat wave has baked much of the U.S. in sweat-soaked misery. The country’s preeminent desert city has long sweltered through such brutal heat.

Phoenix says it’s slowly clearing hundreds of people from a downtown camp of homeless people called “The Zone,” asking a judge to allow more time to clear the area and set up a safer, structured camp site for people living outside.

Phoenix says it’s making progress in complying with a court order to close a large homeless encampment known as “The Zone,” but it will take more time to clear the area and keep people from setting up tents again.

By this time last year, 29 heat-associated deaths had been confirmed in the county and another 193 were under investigation.

David Hondula, direct of heat response and mitigation for the City of Phoenix, noted last week that heat deaths seemed to be lagging this year but warned against drawing any conclusions this early in the season.

There were 425 heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County for all of 2022.

The majority of this year’s heat-associated deaths have been outside, with just four reported indoors. Three of the inside deaths involved broken air conditioners and the fourth involved a cooling system that was not turned on.

Because of past deaths due to power shutoffs, Arizona utilities have adopted rules not to turn off power during excessive heat warnings like the current one declared by the National Weather Service.

The Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s utility regulator, additionally allows the providers it oversees to choose between pausing disconnections June 1 through October 15 or pausing them on days forecasted to be above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

This year’s suspected heat-associated deaths have included a 73-year-man who got a flat tire Sunday when he was bicycling in the desert outside the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye. He told his family that he would walk to a nearby fire station for help but died before he could get there.

The death is under investigation by Maricopa County’s Office of the Medical Examiner.

Extreme heat is especially hard on older people, who have a greater tendency for chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, kidney and heart disease and high blood pressure.

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