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Jackie Rubio, Matthew Rubio, Katrina Rubio and Francisco Rubio hold a photo of Francisco Rubio III on Nov. 28, 2021. Rubio died of COVID-19 complications earlier this year. He was 21 years old. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Last year, Voice of San Diego sued the County of San Diego to get death records for local residents who died directly or indirectly from COVID-19.

A few months ago, we won.

Since then, a team of reporters has blazed through thousands of these records, by hand, to assemble the data and reveal trends — to show the true impact of COVID, how our region works for different populations and who was most affected by the pandemic.

On the podcast this week, VOSD’s lead reporter for the series, Will Huntsberry, joined hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña to explain the biggest findings. And they were striking. Among them: Half of San Diego’s pandemic deaths were immigrants. And a college degree was effectively “an insurance policy” against death.

Huntsberry on the show explained how the numbers break down for immigrants as they fit into the county as a whole and why education has any impact on public health when the pandemic was pouring through the whole country in 2020.

Where the Sidewalk (Vending) Ends

The city of San Diego is struggling with the question of sidewalk vending. Can local government let people make ends meet and get businesses started while protecting public spaces at the same time?

This week, Villafaña dug into the matter and squared a 2018 state law — that has not yet been implemented by the city — with the needs of local entrepreneurs who are pushing for more structure to expand their businesses.

What’s that? You love us so much you want to donate?!

VOSD’s year-end fundraising campaign is in full swing. This week, as we brought you our long-awaited series on COVID’s impact in the region, we ask you to consider the value of our journalism (and your favorite weekly podcast). If you’re so moved, here’s where you can give.

We’ve got a generous matching gift from Allison Rossett that will double any gift you give specifically for the podcast. Just head to vosd.org/podcast2021.

Listen Now

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The Year One: COVID-19’s Death Toll reporting project was made possible with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Nate John

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at nate@vosd.org.

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