PHOENIX – A new study found that Arizona was the only state where COVID-19 was the leading cause of death during the pandemic, a public health nonprofit said.

The Arizona Public Health Association reported nearly 21,000 coronavirus-related deaths between March 17, 2020, and Oct. 14, 2021.

“We looked at all the data collectively, and you see that COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in Arizona, higher than heart disease, higher than cancer. We are unique,” Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday.

Nationally, COVID-19 in the third-leading cause of death, the report said.

“The lack of statewide face covering mandates, the lack of using vaccine requirements among state government, universities, communities, etc.,” were contributing factors to Arizona’s distinction, Humble said.

Arizona reached 21,736 fatalities Tuesday, with an additional 83 reported.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, which Humble ran for a time, said in a director’s blog post that COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the state for 2020.

“While our final report on 2020 statistics has been delayed due to delays in receiving updated population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2020 Advanced Vital Statistics Report is available online.”

The advanced report was issued in June.

ADHS Director Don Herrington wrote the agency expected the “official 2020 vital statistics, including rates, to be released in the coming weeks.”