Tested Podcast

  

Tested is a hard look at how North Carolina and its neighbors face the day's challenges. Hosted by journalists Dave DeWitt and Leoneda Inge. Produced at North Carolina Public Radio, WUNC.

Available now on Apple Podcasts, StitcherGoogle PodcastsNPR One, Spotify, and the WUNC App.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans not to travel this Thanksgiving as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise nationwide. That means many of us are rethinking a holiday that is grounded in sharing platters of food with family and friends.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with chef Stephanie Tyson, co-owner of Sweet Potatoes restaurant in Winston-Salem, about making the most of a different holiday season while staying safe and healthy. Leoneda also talks with members of Tall Grass Food Box, a food service helping Black farmers across the state; and we hear about the efforts of Urban Ministries of Durham to balance safety with community care for people experiencing homelessness.

For chef Stephanie Tyson’s sweet potato cornbread recipe, check out Leoneda’s feature on Tyson’s restaurant from 2014.


Any other year, Americans would be gearing up for the big Thanksgiving travel weekend; traffic jams and long lines at the airport would just be a reality of life. But TSA is quiet at Raleigh Durham International Airport, where the pandemic has cut air travel by two-thirds. Tested host Leoneda Inge talks with passengers and an RDU spokesperson about the changed travel landscape.

Winter

Nov 17, 2020

The pandemic promises to claim many more lives as we head into winter. But, in one of our nation's most dismal times, we have elected a president who is poised to make science a factor in decision-making about this public health crisis. 

In this episode of Tested, host Dave DeWitt discusses the impact of that with Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals.

North Carolina is seeing record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, and Black and Latinx people continue to make up a disproportionate share of them. Without a vaccine, public health experts say testing is a key tool for keeping COVID at bay, and strengthening access to testing in underserved communities remains a necessity. It's a compelling enough argument to convince host Leoneda Inge to get tested herself.

Leoneda talks with Deepak Kumar, director of NCCU’s Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, about improving health services for communities of color. And she speaks with Dr. Cardra Burns and Ben Money from the NC Department of Health and Human Services about the state’s recent testing efforts.
 


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.


You're not imagining it. Almost everyone is incredibly stressed out right now.

The American Psychological Association says the “2020 Presidential Election is a source of significant stress for more Americans than the 2016 Presidential race.” Not to mention COVID-19. And the economic downturn. And ongoing civil unrest.

Host Leoneda Inge examines our collective anxiety — what's causing it, how to recognize it, what to do about it — with Lynn Bufka, the APA's senior director of practice transformation and quality.

Then, Leoneda reconnects with an old friend, comedian Roy Wood Jr., who says it's never too soon to look for the humor in the heavy stuff, as long as you're making light of the right things. He's had plenty of practice as a political correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.


The race for president may still be too close to call in North Carolina, nevertheless Election Day did provide conclusions for a number of key races in the state. Republicans are set to maintain control of both chambers of the General Assembly while the Democratic governor keeps his office. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii talks with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about the latest results and how the voting transpired. 

Seasons Change As Our Surge Remains

Nov 3, 2020

As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations trend upward in nearly every region of the country, health experts are sounding the alarm for a surge in the coming winter months. But some people on the frontlines say the surge in North Carolina is already here.

Guest host Charlie Shelton-Ormond talks with Dr. David Wohl, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UNC School of Medicine, about developments in COVID treatment, and why the coming months don’t look promising. We also preview WUNC’s coverage of the results from Election Day.
 


Young voters, ages 18 to 30, are coming out in big numbers in the lead-up to Election Day. North Carolina ranks in the top states for early ballots cast by young voters, as Millennials and Generation Z look to make their voices heard this election season.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with young voters about their motivations to mobilize their peers. We also hear from David McLennan, political science professor at Meredith College, and Chavi Khanna Koneru, executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together, about the influence of young voters this election.
 


One week to go before Election Day 2020 and the votes continue to pour in by the millions. Behind every ballot cast is a voter wielding the pen and filling in the bubbles for who they want to see in office.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, we hear from a handful of voters across the battleground state of North Carolina about what’s on their minds. Host Jeff Tiberii also talks with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about Granville County and why it's a region to keep a close eye on this election.
 


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.
 


There's a fall tradition that plays a significant role in the lives of historically Black college and university graduates across the nation: homecoming. These events are centered around a football game, sure, but the matchup on the field is no match for the fellowship that takes place as alumni, family and friends gather on campus for a unique kind of annual reunion.

Of course, COVID-19 has changed all that this year. And so, there's an effort to celebrate HBCU homecoming season virtually, by making a monetary donation to these schools right now. Leoneda talks to Shauntae White, a professor at North Carolina Central University who started the online fundraising push, and to Gregory Clark, president of the Florida A&M University Alumni Association, about that economic hit HBCU campuses and the cities they're in will take in the absence of homecomings.

Then, Leoneda makes a trip to the North Carolina State Fair, which is closed for attractions but open to customers seeking a fried food fix. 


North Carolina is again home to the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the nation's history. During this 2020 election cycle, billions of dollars will flow through the somewhat mysterious apparatus of campaign finance.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Jeff Tiberii speaks about the financial landscape with Anna Beavon Gravely of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation, journalist Jeremy Borden, who is also a volunteer leader with the Open Raleigh Brigade of Code for America. and UNC-Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig.

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.
 


Virtual learning has changed almost everything about the classroom experience in North Carolina, but implicit racial biases remain as a hindrance to students' education. Microaggressions and discriminatory behavior from teachers and other classmates can have detrimental effects on students of color, especially young children in preschool.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Iheoma Iruka, professor of public policy and director of the Early Childhood Health and Racial Equity program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, about what's needed to create an “anti-bias classroom.”

Leoneda also discusses the disproportionate number of rejected mail-in ballots from Black voters in North Carolina, and hears from Pro Publica data reporter Sophie Chou about a recent analysis into mail-in ballots in the 2018 midterm election.


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.
 


Political polling isn’t a crystal ball into election outcomes this November, but it is a useful tool to help us understand where certain groups of voters stand in a given point in time.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii examines what makes a good poll, and what might make a survey less reliable. Courtney Kennedy, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, provides a behind-the-scenes look at political polling. And David McLennan, director of the Meredith Poll in Raleigh, talks about the polling process in this battleground state of North Carolina.


The Greensboro City Council passed a resolution this week that officially apologizes for the police’s role in a tragedy often referred to as the “Greensboro Massacre.” On November 3, 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party shot and killed five activists and injured many others during an anti-Klan demonstration. Now, 41 years later, the city is trying to make amends with an apology and an annual scholarship dedicated to the victims. 

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Reverend Nelson Johnson, co-executive director of the Beloved Community Center and a survivor of the Greensboro Massacre, about the city’s apology and what it means for social justice in Greensboro.

Leoneda also reflects on the merits of apologies from elected officials, and highlights the words of the late historian John Hope Franklin in 2005 after Congress apologized for not passing anti-lynching laws in 1950. 


Democrats seeking to transform the landscape of North Carolina politics must take back the state House.

Republicans captured a majority ten years ago, expanded it to veto-proof status in 2012, and in doing so have since fundamentally shifted governance in North Carolina. The GOP is aiming to hold on to its majority this election season, and – with redistricting on the horizon – trying to maintain control for another decade.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, a conversation with state legislators Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Caswell) and Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) about the campaigns, key districts and one divisive strategy.
 


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.
 


African American churches have long been more than just a place to pray. They have served as spaces to organize and advance civil rights, and in the lead up to the election, some churches are continuing the legacy by boosting voter education.

Host Leoneda Inge highlights a church in Durham, NC that’s providing COVID relief and voter education, and talks with Rev. LaKesha Womack, a business consultant and ordained deacon of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, about her series “Rethinking Church” and the role of clergy during the election. 

Leoneda also reflects on a recent sermon by Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and former president of the North Carolina NAACP.


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.


North Carolina's ballot stretches well beyond the top of the ticket. One big question looming in 2020 is whether Democrats will regain control of at least one chamber of the General Assembly, or if Republicans will hang on to the reins with their simple majority. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii dives into a key state senate race in New Hanover County. He speaks with the University of  North Carolina Wilmington's Aaron King about the political landscape for legislative races. And Democratic Sen. Harper Peterson discusses how President Trump's presence on the ballot plays into his bid for reelection in closely contested District 9. 


With the 2020 U.S. census deadline approaching, North Carolina lags behind its Southern neighbors in its count. Only about 62% of households in the state have responded to the census, and experts say at least 400,000 more households need to be counted to get the most accurate response.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Stacey Carless, executive director of the N.C. Counts Coalition, about the influence of the census on federal funding and political representation. Leoneda also speaks with Melissa Nobles, political science professor and dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, about the history of racial categorization with the census.

Plus, how the cultural legacy of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls up thoughts of ways other powerful women in political history have fashionably navigated American democracy.


North Carolina has 13 congressional districts, though only one race is likely to be particularly close this fall. After a judicial panel determined the old map illegally favored Republicans and the boundaries were redrawn last year, the 8th District is now a competitive outlier.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii talks with Chris Cronin, political science professor at Methodist University, about the impact voters in Fayetteville could have on the outcome in the 8th District race. And we hear from Patricia Timmons-Goodson, the Democratic nominee challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Richard Hudson.
 


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.


When Lanisha Jones went to vote in the 2016 election, she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. She thought she was simply exercising her right to vote. But in 2019, the district attorney in Hoke County charged her with voting illegally because at the time she was still on probation from a felony conviction.

Since then, Jones has been fighting the charges, and says she was unfairly targeted for unknowingly committing a crime when she voted.

Host Leoneda Inge joins Jeff Tiberii, host of WUNC’s Politics Podcast, to talk with Jones about the charges and how her experience fits into a larger history of disenfranchisement in North Carolina. Leoneda also speaks with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) about his North Carolina roots, the upcoming election and working to strengthen people’s right to vote.
 


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.
 


With Election Day less than two months away, candidates are in full force on the campaign trail trying to woo voters. But what message are they crafting to appeal to their constituents? When it comes to talking about race, politicians have used coded language to conjure racist stereotypes for decades. The technique is called “dog whistle politics.” 

Guest host Charlie Shelton-Ormond talks about the influence of dog-whistle politics with Ian Haney Lopez, the Chief Justice Earl Warren professor of public law at the University of California-Berkeley. 

Charlie also shares a statement from WUNC about Black lives and racial equity with colleagues Kamaya Truitt and Naomi Prioleau.


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.
 


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