Natalie Krebs

Natalie Krebs is the health reporter for Iowa Public Radio in Des Moines. She previously worked as an independent producer in west Texas where she covered issues related to the environment, immigration and health care. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Copyright 2020 Iowa Public Radio News. To see more, visit Iowa Public Radio News.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Though many people who have been seriously ill from COVID-19 are older or have underlying health conditions, it’s still unclear what causes certain people to get really sick. Aquarius Bunch was a healthy 27-year-old working at an assisted living facility in the Midwest when she got COVID-19. And she was pregnant.

Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. They work long hours, have limited social contact and are at the mercy of factors such as weather. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating even greater challenges to their livelihood—and mental health. 

Many of America’s rural counties have just a handful of COVID-19 cases. And health experts say that may be giving residents a false sense of security. Now, outbreaks at food processing plants could shake that complacency.

In many states, emergency medical services are not considered essential, like fire or police. That means when you call 911, there’s no guarantee an ambulance will respond. And this is a big problem in rural areas, where volunteers are scarce.


The federal government recently raised the smoking age to 21 to help curb teen vaping.  Some are applauding the decision as a win for public health. Others worry it was a knee-jerk reaction.

Just a few weeks ago, some Midwest state legislatures were aiming to raise the legal age for smoking. But Congress moved first, setting a new national age limit of 21. Now, some anti-smoking advocates say that’s not enough. 

Across the country, nearly 95,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. And the list has been growing for years. That's pushed some people to try unusual ways to find donors.