Arizona governor appoints first heat adviser after record summer temps

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) has appointed an adviser focused on extreme heat after the state experienced record summer temperatures last year.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced Wednesday that Dr. Eugene Livar is now the country’s first statewide chief heat officer.

Livar’s new position is part of Hobbs’s Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan, announced Friday, in which state agencies will work to address Arizona’s extreme heat in the immediate and long-term future.

“ADHS is proud to play a role in meeting this moment and working to fix a complex problem facing Arizonans and we will handle this responsibility with the care it deserves and in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Resiliency Director Maren Mahoney,” ADHS Cabinet Executive Office Jennie Cunico said in a statement.

Livar will oversee the implementation of Hobbs’s plan and coordinate state, county and local health departments, as well as the private sector and community-based organizations, ADHS’s announcement said.

Livar said in a statement that he is excited to take on the role and make sure Arizona is prepared for another warm summer.

The announcement comes after a summer of unprecedented heat around the globe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2023 was the warmest year on record by far.

Phoenix set a national heat record for the hottest month across U.S. cities, when its average temperature last July was 102.7 degrees.

The average high temperature for Phoenix was 114.7 degrees, while the average low temperature was 90.8 degrees last July. The only day in July to not reach a temperature of 110 degrees was July 31.

The extremely high temperatures posed serious concerns for the state’s population. According to The Associated Press, in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county with nearly 4.5 million people, there were more than 400 heat-associated deaths last summer.

Phoenix has its own heat officer, as well as an office of heat response and resiliency that sets up cooling stations and plants trees across the Valley, the AP noted.

Under Hobbs’s new plan, Livar and ADHS will create more cooling centers, including six solar-powered mobile cooling units and extreme weather shelters. The Arizona Department of Housing will provide funding to expand heat relief efforts, like providing water, food, sunscreen and clothing to people experiencing homelessness in Tucson and Pima and Santa Cruz counties.

The Hill has reached out to Hobbs’s office for further comment.

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