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ER Visits for Heat-related Illness on the Rise

Extremely high rates of heat-related illness were reported in the South and Southeast where temperatures have been averaging 90 F and above.

July 2, 2024

As temperatures soared in the United States in recent weeks, many states saw extremely high rates of heat-related emergencies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the regions hardest hit by the highest temperatures do not necessarily correspond to the areas with the highest temperatures.

For example, temperatures reached 100 F and beyond across much of the South and Southwest. While these regions saw their ER visits grow in June, they did not reach peak levels. On the other hand, temperatures have been in the 80s and 90s in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Mountain West—where heat-related illnesses did peak on June 23, CNN reported. When the heat reached its peak in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, hospitals in more than two dozen states across six regions reported “extremely high” rates of heat-related emergencies despite temperatures hovering in the lower 80 F and 90 F range. The CDC defines “extremely high” as being in the top 5% of busiest days for heat-related illnesses from 2018 through 2023.

On June 29, extremely high rates of heat-related illness were reported in the South and Southeast where temperatures have been averaging 90 F and above.

Approximately 1,220 people in the U.S. are killed by extreme heat every year, according to the CDC. Last year Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa County, recorded 645 heat-related deaths with about two-thirds of those people being homeless, The Associated Press reported. In 2023, Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, talleyed a 31-day streak of days of 110 F or higher that stretched from the last day of June through July. This year in Phoenix, temperatures have already reached 115 F, and six heat-related death have been confirmed through June 22—with another 111 under investigation.

As CMM previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor recently moved toward publishing a proposed rule to reduce the significant health risks of heat exposure for U.S. workers in outdoor and indoor settings. Additionally, the CDC collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) released a new Heat and Health Initiative to protect Americans from heat exposure, particularly during heat events.

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