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December was the deadliest month in 2020 for Arizona COVID-19 deaths

There were a total of 2,177 coronavirus-related deaths reported in December, more deaths than any other month last year.

ARIZONA, USA — The last 10 days of 2020 saw ~1,000 new coronavirus-related deaths reported in Arizona, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS).

This large amount of recent deaths is one of the reasons why December was the worst month for COVID-19 fatalities that Arizona saw since the pandemic began.

AZDHS reported 2,177 coronavirus-related deaths in December. July was previously the month with the most reported COVID-19 deaths at 2,062, followed by August with 1,335 deaths. 

These past 10 days has also been the fastest Arizona has seen an increase in 1,000 reported COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began, topping 9,000 deaths Jan. 1. The increase from 7,000 reported deaths on Dec. 9 to 8,000 reported deaths on Dec. 22 was the second-fastest 1,000 death increase at 13 days.

These grim milestones comes as the fight against the virus, ravaging our communities, continues with a promising vaccine being distributed and health care workers armed with more knowledge and treatment plans.

However, the vaccine, advanced treatments and a command of the virus' behavior came too late for some Arizonans. And they left family and friends shattered by loss.

12 News continues to tell the stories of Arizonans we have lost to COVID-19.

Erika Viera lost her battle to COVID at the age of 31. Her family shared with 12 News she was admitted to the hospital for trouble breathing in May after experiencing symptoms for eight days.

Erika was in the ICU for 33 days. On June 24, she passed away.

"We were all hoping for a miracle, it didn't matter if it would take her more time to recover, we were willing to wait patiently," a person close to Erika said.

Erika is described as "a dedicated wife, mother of 3, daughter and sister."

Credit: Family
Erika Viera lost her battle with COVID-19 in May.

MORE: Remembering some of the Arizonans we lost to COVID-19

Humberto "Junior" Trujillo made history as Phoenix’s first Hispanic Postmaster.

"He was definitely a force to be reckoned with," says his daughter Nicole.

His family says he died from COVID-19 in July after weeks of being in the hospital.

Trujillo worked his way up the ranks at the U.S. Post Office, from helping build the Central Office in Phoenix to becoming Postmaster for the whole city.  He spent 31 years with USPS and really put his stamp on society.

MORE: 'A force to be reckoned with': Remembering Phoenix Postmaster who died from COVID-19

Kerry Croswhite was a beloved former Chandler High School teacher and swim coach.

Croswhite passed away in July, according to his wife.

"Kerry lost his battle at 6:01 p.m. this evening," she wrote. "He now can see all of your love and tributes and support."

He had been in the hospital since the beginning of July and his wife blogged regularly about his condition.

MORE: 'He impacted so many athletes and students' lives: Beloved Chandler teacher, coach dies of COVID-19

More stories about the Arizonans lost to COVID-19, who have left lasting impacts on their families, communities and our state HERE