A Covid-19 vaccine sign can be seen in front of Leo's Lakeside Pharmacy on Dec. 10, 2022.
A Covid-19 vaccine sign can be seen in front of Leo's Lakeside Pharmacy on Dec. 10, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Covid Year Two series is supported by the Data-Driven Reporting Project

Our story published on Monday is the third in a series that we’ll continue rolling out over the next few weeks. It concluded that several communities, most on the eastern edge of the metro, saw an increase in Covid-related deaths, while the death rate dropped virtually everywhere else, during year two of the pandemic.

Nowhere was the increase as acute as Lakeside.

To even get to this point took a considerable amount of time and energy, the cooperation of nearly everyone in the organization, plus a few freelancers.

It all began with a lawsuit.

In an effort to independently vet the information coming from public health officials in 2020, we sued after they declined to make Covid-related death certificates available. We won that case, but soon encountered another obstacle. Rather than pay upwards of $80,000 for physical copies, we chose instead to view the records in person in Santee. 

Our reporters spent months logging and analyzing death certificates for the first year of the pandemic. All five of those stories can be found here

Our current effort is focused on the period between March 2021 and March 2022, which included the wide distribution of vaccines.

Story one found that while the total number of Covid-related deaths went down, the median age of death also dropped — meaning the virus wiped out younger people as time went on. Story two found that public health campaigns narrowed the racial death gap, but class remained a powerful predictor of who was likely to perish.

Public health professionals say vaccine hesitancy, changing attitudes as society opened up again, a lack of insurance, and disruptions in the healthcare industry were all contributing factors. 

Read more stories in our series here.

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