New COVID Diaries short film series shows “the human side of the data”

Stories of community vulnerability include a single mother in Texas with dirty drinking water, a father in the Mississippi Delta delivering food to hungry neighbors, and more

Just after the first anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, we released a collection of 12 short films that show how the pandemic has wreaked havoc on vulnerable communities across the United States.

The COVID Diaries series brings a human perspective to the data Surgo has been collecting and sharing about community vulnerability during COVID-19. The films were produced by Sareen Hairabedian, an award-winning filmmaker based in Washington, D.C.

Last April, we approached Sareen with an idea: What if we gave up artistic control, and asked people to document their own lives and stories about COVID in the way they wanted?

It was both thrilling and terrifying. But the results exceeded our expectations, helping us elevate the human side of the data and show what ‘vulnerability’ means in people’s own words.”

Watch the COVID Diaries Series

We define “vulnerability” as a community’s ability to weather a COVID-19 outbreak based on a number of structural, socioeconomic, and health-related factors. Vulnerability is such a critical factor to consider in response efforts that the CDC now features our COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index as a resource for federal, state, and local responders.

We have confirmed that people living in vulnerable communities in the United States have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. For example, since the pandemic began in 2020, people in vulnerable communities:

  • Are 45% more likely to have died from COVID-19 than those living in non-vulnerable communities
  • Are 26% more likely to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 than those living in non-vulnerable communities
  • Are 26% less likely to have been tested for COVID-19 than those living in non-vulnerable communities
  • Have been 32% more likely to live in a COVID-19 hotspot than those living in non-vulnerable communities

The COVID Diaries films series shares the stories of 12 families, as listed below.

To watch all the films, please visit or click on the title below.

  1. Agrepina Gomez from Cameron County, TX“One Good Thing About Lockdown is Learning New Skills: COVID Diaries, Part 1”
  2. The Brooks family from Sullivan County, NY“We Went into Panic Mode: COVID Diaries, Part 2”
  3. Chantelle Yazzie-Martin from Dona Ana County, NMTake a Couple Deep Breaths for My Mental Health: COVID Diaries, Part 3
  4. Emmarie Flaggs Anderson from Warren County, MSThere is Strength in Family Unity: COVID Diaries, Part 4
  5. Ericka Murria from Wayne County, MI The Pandemic Cost Me 11 People in One Week: COVID Diaries, Part 5
  6. Sylvester Hoover, Kathryn Lucas and Dr. Mary Carol Miller from Leflore County, MSAll I Hear is Code Blue Emergency Room: COVID Diaries, Part 6
  7. Naida Rutherford from Logan County, COI saw 247 Prison Inmates with COVID Today: COVID Diaries, Part 7
  8. Sahar Khadjenoury from San Juan County, UT, Navajo NationPutting Groceries in Their Cupboards: COVID Diaries, Part 8
  9. Sarah Feliz from Miami Dade County, FLDying in the ICU During the Pandemic is Dying Alone: COVID Diaries, Part 9
  10. Sarah French from Perry County, ARPandemic Rules Change as We Cross State Lines: COVID Diaries, Part 10
  11. Sareth Garcia from Hidalgo County, TXWithout a Home Healthcare Provider Life Is So Difficult: COVID Diaries, Part 11
  12. Stacie DiDomenico from Rockland County, NYWe’re Running Out of Places to Put the Bodies: COVID Diaries, Part 12



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Surgo Ventures

Surgo Ventures

We use all the tools available from behavioral science, data science, and artificial intelligence to unlock solutions that will save and improve people’s lives.