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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 action and conducted interviews with more than 100 individuals in the area during the summer and fall of 2020. The work resulted in a book.

In this encore edition 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

This episode was originally produced on April 8, 2022.

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