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

COVID cases are dropping and vaccine doses are becoming more plentiful. Scientists are even working on a pill that could prevent future coronavirus pandemics. But Lisa Gralinski of the UNC Department of Epidemiology reminds host Dave DeWitt that this pandemic is not over yet.  


As educators become eligible for the vaccine, some school districts are reopening for in-person learning. The move is forcing families and educators to grapple with what’s possible to ensure health and safety inside the classroom. Host Dave DeWitt talks with James Hopkins, principal of Lakewood Elementary in Durham, about the transition to in-person learning. Plus, two North Carolina teachers share how they are coping with the road ahead.
 

  

The COVID crisis has not only stalled the visa application process for immigrants in the U.S., it's made returning home an uncertain option when many borders are closed. Host Dave DeWitt and producer Rebecca Martinez tell a story about Nicolas Duchamp, a world-class flute player from France who hoped to gain permanent residency in the U.S.


Governments are trying to develop a pattern of COVID-19 vaccine distribution that satisfies a variety of interested parties. Meredith College Religious and Ethical Studies Professor Steve Benko tells host Dave DeWitt that the most efficient system isn’t always the most equitable.


Photo of J.G. deRoulhac Hamilton
NC Digital Collections / UNC Libraries

Hear more about Hamilton and how faculty at UNC-CH are  working to undo his harmful legacy in the latest episode of "Tested" out now.

 

J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton spent decades in the first half of the 20th Century puttering along the backroads of the South in his trusted Ford, gathering the papers and artifacts that became the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill. It was his life's work, and it gained him fame and a legacy that befitted an intellectual giant of the age.

J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton’s name has marked an academic building on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus for decades, a testament to his impact as a historian of the American South in the 20th century. But beneath his cloak of academic legitimacy, Hamilton was a white supremacist.

Now faculty at the university are working to unravel and reform his harmful legacy with a push to change the name of the building currently called Hamilton Hall.
 


Showing Up

Jan 19, 2021

It’s been a year since the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. and it shows no sign of slowing down. Tim Sheahan is a coronavirus researcher and assistant professor of epidemiology at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. He tells host Dave DeWitt about the relentless workload that comes with an unforgiving pandemic.  


Five people died after President Trump incited rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol. North Carolina Central University Law Professor Irving Joyner tells host Dave DeWitt that what happens next will help define this moment in our history.  


It may feel like COVID-19 has been with us for eons, but there is still a lot we don't know yet about its potential effects on our health. Host Dave DeWitt asks Dr. Colin Smith of Duke University Medical Center about a small, but growing, number of cases of severe psychosis associated with the virus.


Host Dave DeWitt wraps nine months of Tested podcasts with a look at COVID-19 in North Carolina then and now with the show's first guest: Rose Hoban of North Carolina Health News.


El Mensaje

Dec 15, 2020

Early public health messaging around COVID-19 widened a communication gap between officials and North Carolina's Spanish speakers. In this episode, we hear about efforts to bridge the divide from Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, director of health equity at Duke's Department of Family Medicine, and Eliazar Posada of El Centro Hispano.

COVID-19 cases are spiking in rural areas, where hospitals have been dwindling over the past 15 years. Host Dave DeWitt learns more about the impact from Mark Holmes of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Plus, reports from the mountains, and an update from Gov. Roy Cooper.

 

Departures

Dec 1, 2020

COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 5,000 North Carolinians, and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the disease has increased the state's death rate by 5%. 

LaKeisha Butts, an end-of-life doula, talks with Tested producer Rebecca Martinez about the challenges of comforting and offering spiritual guidance for a person over the phone instead of at their bedside. Butts shares how, as an African American woman who has lost some of her own loved ones to COVID, it's much harder to grieve them without community celebrations of life.

And host Dave DeWitt speaks with Heather Hill, a funeral director at Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory in Raleigh, about how funerals have changed since this spring.


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.
 


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