Dave DeWitt

Feature News Editor/ Co-Host, "Tested" Podcast

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.

Dave is also the founding host of "Tested," WUNC's first news podcast.

He has filed stories for NPR’s news magazines as well as Marketplace and Only A Game. He formerly worked in college athletics, college admissions, and with the Tar Heel Sports Network. In 2001, he wrote the non-fiction book "True Blue".

Ways to Connect

Robeson County has been frequently inundated by hurricanes and flooding. When COVID-19 hit that community, it hit it hard. As its residents navigated recent crises, they were also squarely situated on the presidential campaign trail this election season. President Donald Trump and Presidential-elect Joe Biden singled out the uniquely diverse rural county for political canvassing.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with WUNC's digital producer Laura Pellicer and data reporter Jason deBruyn about the pandemic, storm recovery, and why Robeson County increased its support for Trump this election.

We also highlight the significance of an annual Lumbee tradition, and how the tribe is adjusting amidst the pandemic.


Thousands of teachers in North Carolina are currently faced with a difficult choice: go back to teaching in-person class, or continue to teach virtually and minimize their risk of exposure to Covid. But, in truth, it's not even really their decision — at least, not entirely.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with WUNC Education Reporter Liz Schlemmer about the difficult situation for North Carolina teachers weighing their health, and the health of loved ones, with their job. 

We also hear from physicians at Duke University about ways to stay safe during the upcoming holiday season.
 


Dr. Dave Hostler has seen his fair share of challenges in the medical field. As an Army pulmonary and critical care doctor, he has served in multiple intensive care units, was the brigade surgeon for the 82nd Airborne, and treated service members in combat zones overseas. But he says his recent work providing care to COVID patients at an overwhelmed civilian hospital in McAllen, TX was his most challenging experience.

Producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond talks with Dr. Hostler about treating patients in south Texas, and what he urges people to keep in mind about treatment and prevention as the pandemic continues. 

We also hear from Michelle Ries, interim director of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, about the state’s proposed plan for distributing a pending vaccine.
 


Early voting starts this week in North Carolina, and the pandemic has forced many people to re-think how they’re casting their ballots. As accounts trickle in of voters across the country navigating hurdles with early and mail-in voting, concerns persist over how ballots will be counted, and if this election will be fair and accurate.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Rusty Jacobs, political reporter for WUNC, about the process for absentee voting in North Carolina and why Granville County is helping bring the swing this election. 

Dave also reflects on being a parent to a child in college and monitoring COVID-19 dashboards for campuses, sometimes obsessively.
 


The three Ws — wash your hands, wear a mask and watch your distance — are our best bets for warding off COVID-19 until we have one thing: a vaccine. A vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond talks with Dr. Cindy Gay, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UNC School of Medicine and primary investigator for that clinical trial, about what exactly is needed for a safe and reliable vaccine.

We also hear from WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about a wild weekend in North Carolina politics.
 


With more than one million deaths worldwide, it can feel nearly impossible to fully grasp the toll COVID-19 has taken across the globe. The consistent stress of the pandemic, and an ever-increasing death count can sometimes be too much for our brains to comprehend. 

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Elke Weber, professor of psychology, public affairs, energy, and the environment at Princeton University, about adapting to stress and numbness tied to the pandemic.

Dave also highlights a recent study that examined ghost forests along the North Carolina coast and how they serve as indicators of climate change’s consequences.


A Black Lives Matter billboard that Kerwin Pittman had placed on Tryon Road in Raleigh's Southside for one month. This is the second Black Lives Matter billboard in a campaign he plans to take statewide.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Raleigh police arrested 12 people during protest activity in the capitol city Saturday night.

When a COVID-19 outbreak hits a community, one of the first responses is to perform contact tracing to pinpoint the outbreak's origin and inform people at risk to quarantine. But defenses against the virus can only go so far without consistent support from the public. 

Host Dave DeWitt talks with WFAE reporter David Boraks about the effectiveness of contact tracing around Charlotte, NC.

Dave also speaks with Meera Viswanathan, a fellow with RTI International and director of the RTI-UNC Evidence-Based Practice Center, about a recent analysis of coronavirus health screenings.


North Carolina has been in some version of a statewide shutdown for nearly six months. Throughout that time, COVID-19 has demanded a never-ending list of challenges and risks, especially for communities of color. Since the beginning of the pandemic, African Americans have accounted for a disproportionate number of coronavirus-related deaths due to long-standing systemic racial health disparities.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Whitney Robinson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health, about ways the virus could have been more mitigated, and the efforts communities of color are making to keep themselves safe.

Dave also discusses how the North Carolina Forest Service is providing aid to western states as raging wildfires continue to burn millions of acres.
 


As COVID-19 cases climb at many colleges and universities in North Carolina, schools are maintaining dashboards to track and present different data and terminology. But are the dashboards enough of a resource to keep students and faculty informed about the virus on their campus?

On this edition of the Politics Podcast, we're featuring an episode from Tested, a podcast at WUNC that takes a hard look at how North Carolina and its neighbors are facing the day's challenges.

Tested host Dave DeWitt talks with WUNC education reporter Liz Schlemmer about the role of dashboards in tracking COVID-19 cases at colleges and universities.
 


As COVID-19 cases climb at many colleges and universities in North Carolina, schools are maintaining dashboards to track and present different data and terminology. But are the dashboards enough of a resource to keep students and faculty informed about the virus on their campus?

Host Dave DeWitt talks with WUNC education reporter Liz Schlemmer about the role of dashboards in tracking COVID-19 cases at colleges and universities.
 


As universities wrestle with a semester upended by COVID-19, college athletes in the ACC are being asked to stay on campus and get ready for their upcoming seasons.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Andrew Carter, reporter for the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer, about the fall football season and what it signals for the rest of college athletics.

We also hear about a weekly newscast called "John News," hosted by seven-year-old John Wartmore of Chapel Hill, NC.
 


Some of North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics are trending slightly downward, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is close to being over.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Rose Hoban, editor of North Carolina Health News, about the latest COVID numbers and the state of rural hospitals and vaccine trials in North Carolina.

We also hear producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond discuss ethics during the pandemic with Jim Thomas, associate professor of epidemiology and a fellow at the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Monday that it will be moving all undergraduate classes online after the university reported 130 new positive COVID-19 cases among students and multiple clusters of cases. 

Host Dave DeWitt examines how some students are responding to the change of plans by the university after a stressful first week of the fall semester.

We also hear about the efforts of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina in combating the spread of COVID-19, and how their tradition of collective responsibility has helped keep the virus at bay.
 


There are now more than 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, as a result of more than 2 million conducted tests. But testing is not the only method to determine the prevalence of the virus in a community.

Researchers are also analyzing the wastewater in sewage systems to determine levels of COVID-19 in several towns and cities across the state.

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Dr. Rachel Noble, professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about her team’s wastewater research and how it can improve efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

We also hear about a new study that asked people across the country how they have experienced pandemic-related stress.
 


A screengrab of a video released on Aug. 5, 2020 that shows the events that led up to the December death of John Neville, an inmate in the Forsyth County Jail.
Forsyth County Sheriff

Officials released videos today that show the events that led up to the December death of John Neville, an inmate in the Forsyth County Jail. According to an autopsy report, he died by positional and compressional asphyxia during face-down restraint.

After pivoting to virtual instruction in the spring, colleges and universities are now taking different approaches to try to keep students and faculty safe as a new semester gets underway.

Some smaller private institutions are keeping things remote, and offering all-online classes. Meanwhile, the 17 schools within the UNC system are welcoming students back into dorms and offering a mix of in-person and virtual classes. 

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Randy Woodson, chancellor of North Carolina State University, about the school’s preparations for an unprecedented semester. 

DeWitt also reflects on his experience as a parent sending his oldest child off to college, and adjusting expectations during the pandemic.
 


This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, at 9:40 a.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Isaias over the Bahamas
NOAA via AP

Updated at 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 2

A state of emergency is in effect for much of North Carolina as Tropical Storm Isiais approaches. The brunt of the storm is expected to hit the piedmont and coastal plane late Monday and into Tuesday.

The pandemic hasn’t halted much traffic for summer vacationers in some areas of the North Carolina coast. In June, Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Dare County saw its largest number of visitors in nearly 20 years. But even as people come from states with higher COVID numbers, Dare County’s health department has mostly been able to keep COVID under control. 

Host Dave DeWitt talks with Sheila Davies, director of the department of health and human services in Dare County, about the role of residents and visitors in combating the virus in the coastal county. We also hear about a new app that aims to help healthcare workers better understand their mental health.


The pandemic has infiltrated and affected every aspect of human life, across the globe. The devastating health and economic impacts have been undeniable, and ever-present.

But there’s something else happening that’s not as noticeable: the animals. Creatures with fur, feathers and paws have been spotted in some unexpected places since there haven't been as many humans getting in their way.

WUNC’s Laura Pellicer and Elizabeth Friend were curious about the effect a drastic decrease in human activity might have on wildlife. So they decided to look at one animal in particular, and see if it’s behavior has changed since North Carolina shut down from COVID-19.

On this episode, we’re featuring "CREEP," an audio special about our relationship with wildlife during the pandemic.

 


What will happen in the fall? It’s a question that’s burning in the minds of parents, teachers and students since schools were closed in March. On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced schools will be allowed to reopen for both in-person and remote learning with safety protocols in place. Meanwhile, parents are faced with the difficulty of determining what will be best for their child’s health and education in the upcoming semester.

We hear from Dr. Charlene Wong, assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University, about the impact of in-person and remote learning on families and students.

We also talk with Dr. Brian Burrows, medical director and chair of the emergency department at Duke Regional Hospital, about life as a medical professional during a pandemic, and how to manage personal well-being as a doctor on the frontlines.

After months of socially distant play dates, remote learning and unplanned Fortnite marathons, families have done their very best to find a “new normal” during the pandemic. Throughout all the stress and uncertainty, families are staying resilient, creative and connected.

We talk with Dr. Christine Murray, director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at UNC-Greensboro, about shifting family dynamics and how households have adjusted to different routines in quarantine.

We also talk with Dr. Anita Blanchard, associate professor of psychological and organization science at UNC-Charlotte, about the influence of video conferencing platforms like Zoom on people’s sense of community.


North Carolina residents have lived under various rules and policies throughout the gradual reopening, and last week Governor Roy Cooper added a new one to the list: a statewide mandate to wear face coverings.

Growing evidence shows that face masks can help reduce the spread of the virus. Yet some people, like President Donald Trump, are still reluctant to wear one.

We talk with Dr. Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, about the rhetoric tied to wearing a face mask and how public health messaging can adapt. We also hear from a hygiene expert about a possible future for sports fans.


As state officials continue to heed the call for social distancing and face coverings, researchers and health experts have been busy examining the trends and forecasting possible scenarios for the pandemic’s future.

We talk with Kim Powers, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about her work modeling the projection of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

We also hear about the work of a historic site to celebrate Juneteenth, while social distancing.

The next phase of North Carolina’s gradual reopening is in jeopardy as many of the state’s health trends continue to move in the wrong direction. Hospitalizations on average are on the rise, while 1,154 people have died from the virus.

We talk with Rose Hoban, editor and founder of North Carolina Health News and a registered nurse, about the positive test rate in the state and other alarming trends that could influence the next steps.  Host Dave DeWitt also reflects on the special experience of his son’s high school graduation.


StockSnap / Pixabay Creative Commons


Colleges and universities across North Carolina – and across the country – are developing plans and backup plans for how to conduct classes this fall during the coronavirus pandemic. All are weighing safety and health risks with financial realities, and the realities of college life. 

There have been more than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than a dozen outbreaks at state correctional facilities. Five inmates at state prisons and one person on prison staff have died from the virus.

State officials say they’ve been following CDC guidelines for testing and treatment, but some argue officials aren’t doing enough for inmates. On Monday, a state judge sided with civil rights groups, and ruled that state prisons must come up with a plan to test every inmate for COVID-19.

We hear from Elaine White about her experience being incarcerated during the pandemic, and why she is concerned for the health of people at correctional facilities. And we check in with WUNC data reporter Jason deBruyn about testing at state prisons.


Since the start of Phase 2, some of the state’s key COVID-19 metrics haven’t been trending in the ways North Carolina’s leaders had hoped. On Tuesday the number of hospitalizations hit a new high, with the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting 774 people in the hospital with COVID-19. This peak comes after North Carolina also saw its single highest day of new cases reported over the weekend.

We talk with Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease physician at UNC School of Medicine, about the upticks in hospitalizations and what it means for the road ahead. We also hear about a memorial for George Floyd this past weekend in Raeford, North Carolina.
 


The demographic breakdown of COVID-19 cases remains a grim reminder of rampant racial health disparities in our nation. For black and Latinx communities especially, the consequences of longstanding gaps in healthcare have been intensified by the pandemic.

Hispanics account for 39% of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but only comprise about 10% of the total population. But there are several barriers prohibiting Latinx folks from getting adequate testing and treatment during the pandemic. We talk with Eliazar Posada, community engagement and advocacy director for El Centro Hispano, and Paola Jaramillo, cofounder of Enlace Latino NC, about outreach within the Latinx community.


In the past week, protests have taken place throughout North Carolina, and across the country, in response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was born in North Carolina, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week. In a video, Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” while the officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The ongoing protests are also fueled by historic and longstanding violence and institutional inequalities perpetrated against black Americans- inequalities that have been illuminated by the pandemic’s death toll.

We talk with William Darity, director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center for Social Equity at Duke University, and the co-author of the new book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.” We also hear from Brianna Baker, a public health analyst with RTI International, about attending a protest in Raleigh on Saturday and why she feels an urgency to organize despite a pandemic.


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