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When Okoboji became a COVID-19 hotspot, this medical anthropologist conducted research to figure out what happened and why

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Emily Mendenhall is a medical anthropologist, and is originally from a small town in Iowa. When that town — Okoboji — became a COVID-19 hotspot, Mendenhall sprung into work and conducted interviews with more than 100 individuals in the area during the summer and fall of 2020. The work resulted in a book.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, Mendenhall joins host Charity Nebbe to share what she learned in her book, Unmasked: COVID, Community and the Case of Okoboji.


  • Emily Mendenhall, medical anthropologist, professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
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Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa