Jason deBruyn

Data Reporter

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC data reporter, a position he took in September, 2016.

In the role, Jason investigates story lines hidden in data to uncover untold issues that matter to North Carolinians. He is passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and using data to shine a light on disenfranchised groups who have been taken advantage of.

Prior to joining WUNC, Jason covered the business of health care and pharmaceuticals for Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, an affiliate of the American City Business Journals network. His reporting roots trace to the Enquirer-Journal, a community newspaper in Monroe, North Carolina.

Protesters and police in riot gear face off at demonstrations on Sunday night in Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Images and video from Saturday and Sunday nights in Raleigh have ricocheted across the internet. Cameras captured heavily armored police and sheriff’s deputies pushing protesters with sticks, the air thick with tear gas. On Sunday, Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin criticized the rioting and looting that took place.

Line of police officers in riot gear face a line of kneeling protesters.
Jason deBruyn/WUNC

For the last three nights, people in communities around North Carolina raised their voices and demonstrated against police brutality against black people. The death of George Floyd sparked these protests in the Tar Heel state and around the country.

Volunteers work to clean up and repair damage in downtown Raleigh, N.C., after a night of angry clashes between police and protestors left much of Downtown Raleigh damaged on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Protests broke out in several North Carolina cities over the weekend. Almost all of them began peacefully, but as darkness descended each night, violent confrontations and looting took place in Fayetteville, Charlotte, and Raleigh. It was particularly damaging in the state capitol, where protestors damaged almost every storefront on Fayetteville Street.

Protesters march through downtown Raleigh on Saturday, May 30, 2020 to denouce the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Peyton Sickles / For WUNC

Updated at 8:34 a.m.

More than 1,000 protesters walked through downtown Raleigh Saturday evening to denounce the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some carried signs that said "I can't breathe" and "Racism is not patriotism." Others chanted "No justice, No peace."

Emergency Management Coordinators Conor Bake (left), Taylor Jones and Catherine Hughes listen to a webinar presented by Division Director Don Campbell from his office in Greensboro during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, May 14.
Scott Muthersbaugh / Guilford County Emergency Services

North Carolina is no stranger to emergencies. When severe weather moves in — be it an ice storm or hurricane — there's a predictable path, an event that's relatively short, and a recovery that's pre-planned based on years of experience.

This is different. A stealth raider moves across the state in invisible waves. And for the first time, all of North Carolina is under a federal state of emergency as a global pandemic takes root. The state has recorded more than 19,400 cases (as of Tuesday May 19) and the virus has spread across all 100 of the state's counties. There have been 682 deaths from COVID-19, according to DHHS figures.

Jason deBruyn/WUNC

A small group, mostly armed, walked the streets of downtown Raleigh Saturday in support of their Second Amendment rights. 

Sara Fearrington is a Waffle House worker and married to a husband with a chronic lung condition. She advocates for higher pay and better health benefits for frontline workers.
Sara Fearrington / Contributed

In order to make it to her first shift at Waffle House, Sara Fearrington gets up at 5 a.m. to be out the door on time to catch the first bus into the downtown Durham terminal. She then transfers to the No. 12 line out to the restaurant on Highway 55, which usually gets her there at about 6:45 a.m. – enough time to get ready and clock in by 7 a.m.

Randall Moore, center with tan pants, spoke with Raleigh police about the rules about openly carrying firearms during a protest.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Nine protesters armed with military-style weapons and clothing gathered at the entrance of Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Raleigh Friday morning. Some of those protesters joined with a slightly larger group Friday afternoon to march around the downtown government district in protest of Gov. Roy Cooper's orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They said the measures infringed on their Constitutional rights.

Semi-Automatic handguns are displayed at Duke's Sport Shop, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New Castle, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has driven up gun sales across the nation, including in North Carolina. While there's no way to track the types of guns sold, gun store owners in Wake County are saying most of the increased demand is from first-time gun owners, and those buying firearms for self defense.

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina's stay-at-home order until at least May 8. The order was issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This means the social distancing measures in place since March 30 will continue. Those include the mandated closures of restaurants for dine-in service and bars, along with the closure of other close-contact businesses.

Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh has seen far less traffic than normal as retail businesses, including bars and restaurants, are closed to dine-in traffic.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Business optimism fell to a low point not seen since the Great Recession. But tucked in the latest survey of chief financial officers are breadcrumbs of hope for reviving the economy after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

N.C. Prisons began staff medical screenings to reduce chances of COVID-19 getting into facilities. Efforts began March 20 and were implemented system-wide after no-touch thermometers arrived.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina prisons will release some non-violent offenders early, officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced Monday.

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the structure of coronavirus. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Four people at Wellington Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Knightdale have tested positive for the coronavirus, the first outbreak of COVID-19 at a long-term care facility in Wake County.

Medical student Claire Chen, right, takes a man's temperature while screening for possible coronavirus cases at a makeshift camp for the homeless Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Las Vegas.
John Locher / AP

Dr. Brian Klausner holds a special passion for providing medical care to homeless patients.

"The homeless community is just particularly vulnerable," said Klausner, medical director of WakeMed Community Population Health. "There is a lot of reason for concern."

As the coronavirus spreads throughout North Carolina, health experts like Klausner almost universally worry about how quickly COVID-19 could spread in homeless populations. Not only are those who suffer homelessness more susceptible to illness, but they also lack homes in which to shelter. If one person contracts the virus and then stays in a shelter, that person could easily spread the virus to others in that shelter.

Elaine Thompson / AP

State leaders have not given estimates about how many people across North Carolina they suspect have contracted COVID-19, and instead have focused on the number of positive cases due to the illness.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

Grocery clerks and delivery drivers are on the frontlines alongside healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus. But, unlike nurses, coming in contact with highly contagious diseases was not included in their job description. Low wages, limited benefits, and now the pervasive threat of illness?

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Workers around the state say their employers aren't doing enough to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic.

That includes sanitation workers in Raleigh who are demanding that the city do more to protect them following the death of a colleague from COVID-19.

Lively, vocal, and strong, Terence was born on January 21, 2020 to parents Rupillia (Rupi) and Gordian. Rupi was born in 1999 and is little sister to Jovian, star of the Kratt brother's beloved PBS show "Zoboomafoo," who was five years her senior.
Duke Lemur Center

The Duke Lemur Center announced not one, but two new births of the endangered species.

The infants were born January 21 and January 22 and are growing strong, according to the center. The babies were named Terence, pictured above, and Didius, pictured below.

The COVID-19 triage tent next to the UNC Rex Hospital emergency department.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Hospitals across North Carolina don't have a large amount of excess capacity to handle what they expect will be an onslaught of COVID-19 patients in the coming few weeks.

Even as they postpone elective surgeries, set up outdoor triage tents, and ramp up staffing levels, there's a concern that coronavirus patients will overwhelm the health care system.

A sign directs customers to remain in their cars at Trophy Brewing on Morgan Street in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Like thousands of service-sector workers across the state, Joe Smith said he's scared.

Smith has lived in Durham for seven years. He worked in front of house customer service at Joe Van Gogh, and for the past 18 months at the Cafe at Smith Warehouse and Geer Street Garden. But he suddenly found himself unemployed after Governor Roy Cooper ordered all restaurants to cease dine-in services as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 January 19, 2020. Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Supplies are loaded into vehicles at a service delivery site.
Scott Dalton / American Red Cross

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to keep a safe social distance and to wash hands regularly. But, for many Americans already adhering to those recommendations, a feeling of helplessness can creep in.

Here are some other ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

WakeMed Drones

Feb 28, 2020

Spot originally broadcast March 27, 2019. Posted here for the PMJA Award Contest.

WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh will transport medical samples by drone. Jason deBruyn reports its the first hospital in the nation to use drones in this way.

Dave Ayres sounds the siren before an NHL hockey game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Chris Seward / AP

David Ayres was a complete unknown to even the most ardent hockey fan before this past weekend. But after his performance as the emergency backup goalie on Saturday, Carolina Hurricanes fans won't soon forget him. And on Tuesday, Ayres was treated like a hometown hero in Raleigh. 

A rendering of the indoor sports complex proposed for Cary Towne Center.
Town of Cary

The Raleigh City Council has given the go-ahead to a joint funding proposal for a 100,000-square-foot indoor sports complex in Cary. The move comes a day after Wake County Commissioners unanimously approved $59 million to go toward the facility planned for Cary Towne Center.

A rendering of the indoor sports complex proposed for Cary Towne Center.
Town of Cary

Cary leaders want to redevelop the aging Cary Towne Center and say a proposed $193 million indoor sports facility might be just the ticket.

Two images of the same street show stark differences in development.
WUNC

Affordable housing is in limited supply in many communities in North Carolina. The problem is particularly acute in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, where the population growth has outpaced that in more rural parts of the state. WUNC data reporter Jason deBruyn explored what is happening to housing in the Triangle region for his new in-depth series “Where We Live.”

Jason DeBruyn / WUNC

200 families living in the McDougald Terrace public housing complex in Durham have been temporarily moved into hotels because of ongoing problems with carbon monoxide. The Durham Housing Authority put in place a voluntary evacuation order Friday as it conducts testing at the units. 

This graphic shows the revenue distribution from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to agencies across the state.
ABC Commission

The meteoric rise of Tito's Handmade Vodka continues in North Carolina as the clear alcohol held the top two spots of highest sales across the state in 2019, up from two of the top three in 2018.

Inside the Kramden Institute warehouse in south Durham where computers and other electronics are refurbished.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

In a nondescript office park in south Durham, volunteers dug through a giant box of donated electronics. This particular box held hundreds of power cords for Apple iMacs, Lenovo ThinkPads and more. Surrounding that box were others with keyboards, monitors and other accessories.

It's not glamorous work, said Michael Abensour, executive director of the Kramden Institute, but it's necessary. Kramden is a nonprofit that fights to bridge the digital divide. It collects donated computer equipment, refurbishes it, and then gives it away – mostly to students who don't have access to a computer at home.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg, middle, speaks as Rev. Dr. William Barber II, left, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, right, listen during a town hall event organized at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., Sunday Dec. 1, 2019.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg worshiped at Greenleaf Christian Church, a majority black church in Goldsboro, on Sunday.

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