Janet Keating holds a framed photo of her and husband Patrick at her home in Lakeside on Dec. 10, 2022.
Janet Keating holds a framed photo of her and husband Patrick at her home in Lakeside on Dec. 10, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Like a true San Diegan, Dale Campbell cheered for the Padres. Patrick Keating was a funny, opinionated man who loved to consume news. Teresa Torres could pull off a fur coat like no other. Michael Arthur Jackson was an aspiring businessman who designed his own clothing. Chester Banaag liked playing pickleball.

These people all had unique life experiences, professions, beliefs and passions. They all had friends and family who laughed with them. They all had a favorite TV show. They all got haircuts. They all presumably had hopes for their future.  

And they were among the thousands who died from Covid-19 in San Diego County between March 2020 and March 2022.  

Over the last year, we’ve detailed their stories, and many others, in our reporting series on who Covid killed in years one and two of the pandemic. Through this project, our reporters have been able to understand at both the macro and individual level what made someone more susceptible to getting Covid and dying because of the virus.  

During the first year of the pandemic, immigrants, Latinos and the working-class were more likely to die from Covid. Read those stories here.  

A flag reading "The Mask Is As Useless As Joe Biden" along with the American flag is seen in La Mesa on Jan 21. 2023.
A flag reading “The mask is as useless as Joe Biden” along with the American flag is seen in La Mesa on Jan 21. 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The new findings: In their latest story for the series, Voice of San Diego reporters Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx found that after the vaccine became available, partisan affiliation was a predictor of one’s likelihood to die.  

As Huntsberry and Marx reported, “Republicans were 39 percent more likely to die with Covid during year two of the pandemic, even after adjusting for the fact that they tend to be older than Democrats. Independent voters — who belong to no political party — were also 30 percent more likely to die than Democrats during the pandemic’s second year.” Read the Covid Year Two: After the Vaccine series here.  

Why it’s important to know who Covid killed: As the reporting revealed, people with less education, those that lived in poorer parts of the county, Latinos all died at higher levels during year one. During year two, some of these inequalities persisted. Latinos and those with less education and money were still among the hardest hit. But as death rates declined in virtually every ZIP code in the county, they went up in more conservative communities. These were preventable deaths, and as a society, we have a duty to understand what happened and why. It’s crucial information to know if and when another pandemic hits.    

Chisme to Start Your Week  

Council Members, Stephen Whitburn and Joe LaCava during a meeting on Jan. 10, 2023.
(Right to left) Council President pro Tem Monica Montgomery, Council Members, Stephen Whitburn and Joe LaCava during a meeting on Jan. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Fellow managing editor Andrew Keatts dusted off his reporter notebook this week and enlightened us with some interesting stories about the city of San Diego.  

First, Mayor Todd Gloria touched on it briefly during his State of the City speech, but the city is set to bring in contract workers to address a backlog of building permit applications. These contracts are really a temporary solution to a problem that the city will eventually have to tackle. As Keatts writes, “Long-term, the city will have to make its permanent development services positions more competitive to reduce a staffing shortage that helped create the backlog in the first place.”  

Second, accusations were flying in City Hall. Keatts reported that tensions between City Council members, the San Diego city attorney and independent budget analyst played out in the public’s eye on Monday. Read his story here.  

Education reporter Jakob McWhinney got personal this week with his education newsletter, The Learning Curve. McWhinney shared that when he was a middle school student in La Mesa in 2001, two shootings happened at schools less than 20 miles from his, two weeks apart. He shared that covering a school shooting is one of his greatest fears, but also, sadly a possibility.  

Note from me: Thank you to all the subscribers who welcomed the rebranding of What We Learned This Week with open arms. 

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She welcomes conversations...

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