Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.

Wamsley got her start at NPR as an intern for Weekend Edition Saturday in January 2007 and stayed on as a production assistant for NPR's flagship news programs, before joining the Washington Desk for the 2008 election.

She then left NPR, doing freelance writing and editing in Austin, Texas, and then working in various marketing roles for technology companies in Austin and Chicago.

In November 2015, Wamsley returned to NPR as an associate producer for the National Desk, where she covered stories including Hurricane Matthew in coastal Georgia. She became a Newsdesk reporter in March 2017, and has since covered subjects including climate change, possibilities for social networks beyond Facebook, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and joke theft.

In 2010, Wamsley was a Journalism and Women Symposium Fellow and participated in the German-American Fulbright Commission's Berlin Capital Program, and was a 2016 Voqal Foundation Fellow. She will spend two months reporting from Germany as a 2019 Arthur F. Burns Fellow, a program of the International Center for Journalists.

Wamsley earned a B.A. with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Wamsley holds a master's degree from Ohio University, where she was a Public Media Fellow and worked at NPR Member station WOUB. A native of Athens, Ohio, she now lives and bikes in Washington, DC.

Amnesty International says it has documented 125 separate instances of violence against protesters for racial justice in the U.S. over an 11-day period earlier this summer.

In a report published Tuesday, the human rights organization says that in the five years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., "there has been a disturbing lack of progress ... in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others."

Despite progress made on a vaccine against COVID-19, "there's no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be," the World Health Organization's director-general warned on Monday.

A month after lifting its lockdown, Spain announced 922 new cases of the coronavirus. The country has now seen 272,421 total cases and 28,432 deaths.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

Another day, another mind-boggling milestone: 4 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus. The U.S. hit the 3 million mark just 15 days ago.

That's according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.

As federal law enforcement agents continue to occupy Portland, Ore., state and local officials are demanding that they leave. Protesters have demonstrated in the city's downtown for more than 50 nights since George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Updated Aug. 10: The Florida Department of Health says that the high positivity rate among children described below was due to a "computer programming error" in producing the pediatric data report.

In a statement, the DOH says that due to the error, "a subset of negative pediatric test results were unintentionally excluded from the pediatric report. The coding error was identified and has been corrected."

The NCAA released new guidelines on Thursday for colleges and universities looking to resume sports in the fall. The big message: The outlook is getting worse, not better.

Carissa Helmer and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for five or six months by early April, when COVID-19 started to spike in the Washington, D.C., area where they live. Maybe, they mused, they should stop trying to conceive for a few months.

But then a pregnancy test came back positive.

"We were, like, 'Oh well — I guess it's too late for that!' " Helmer says, laughing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that the city will provide free child care to 100,000 students when schools reopen in September.

Last week the city released its plan for children to return to public school classrooms one to three days a week, depending on each school's capacity for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students will take classes remotely on the other days.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that the Pentagon will swiftly undertake a number of steps to address discrimination, prejudice and bias in the armed forces.

Esper announced a list of actions for immediate implementation by the Pentagon. Among them:

  • Removing photographs from consideration by promotion boards and selection processes.
  • Conducting bias awareness and bystander intervention trainings.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. governor known to have been infected during the COVID-19 crisis.

Stitt, a Republican, disclosed his illness during a press conference Wednesday over Zoom. He said that he had been tested the day before and that he has been getting tested periodically.

"I feel fine. I felt a little bit achy yesterday, didn't have a fever but just a little bit achy," the governor said. "So just did my regular testing, and it came back positive."

Updated July 20 at 5:20 p.m. ET:

New York City now reports there were 13 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 on July 11, the 24-hour period in which Mayor Bill de Blasio had said that no deaths were reported.

"The mayor was very clear that the information was preliminary and subject to change," a spokesperson for the city told NPR on Monday.

De Blasio made the announcement on July 13, but since then, more complete data has been released.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that about half of the land in Oklahoma is within a Native American reservation, a decision that will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court's decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.

Andres Guardado was killed on June 18 after multiple shots were fired by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. An independent autopsy, performed at the request of his family, has found that the 18-year-old Guardado was shot five times in the back, and died as a result of these gunshot wounds.

Andres' parents, Cristobal and Elisa Guardado, said the autopsy confirms "what we have known all along, which is that Andres was unjustifiably killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy."

Florida's education commissioner says that when schools open in the fall, they'll really open.

In the state where more than 7,300 new coronavirus cases were announced on Tuesday, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran declared that upon reopening in August, "all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students."

As the coronavirus has spread to communities across the U.S., among its effects has been physical upheaval. People have moved from one place to another, or welcomed new members into their households, because of either the virus or its economic impacts.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday that demands an "immediate cessation of hostilities" in conflict zones around the world, due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. It is the first resolution related to the coronavirus that the council has passed.

The text calls for "all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days" to allow for delivery of humanitarian assistance and medical evacuations.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the state will "pause" any further reopening of its economy for now, a day after he said that Texas is facing a "massive outbreak" of the coronavirus.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

At a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other federal officials said that no one had told them — including President Trump — to slow down testing for the coronavirus. The statements came after Trump has repeatedly said that more testing would lead to more infections being revealed.

Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET

California has reached a new high in the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19, surpassing the previous peak in late April.

As of Sunday, the latest publicly available data show that state had 3,702 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 1,199 were in intensive care. There were an additional 1,102 hospitalized patients with suspected COVID-19.

Will students actually go back to school this fall? In Texas, state officials say yes.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath confirmed Thursday that the state's public schools will open for students to return, if they wish.

"It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall," the commissioner said in a statement. "But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday the state's highest-ever number of new COVID-19 cases: 2,622.

He also reported a second record high: 2,518 people hospitalized with the virus in Texas, up from 2,326 a day earlier.

After 24 days with no new cases of the coronavirus, New Zealand now has two. Both are women in the same family and traveled from the U.K. via Australia.

Updated June 17 at 11:50 a.m. ET

Rebekah Jones was fired last month from her job at the Florida Department of Health, where she helped create a data portal about the state's COVID-19 cases. Now, she has created a dashboard of her own.

United Airlines will now require passengers to complete a "health self-assessment" as part of its check-in process. It's the latest effort by a U.S. airline to assure passengers that it's safe to fly as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Nearly four months after the MLS put its season on hold, pro soccer will return to the pitch with a leaguewide tournament at Disney World near Orlando, Fla., starting July 8.

The competition has an unsubtle moniker: The MLS is Back Tournament. And it isn't just a one-off — each game will count in the regular-season standings. The winner will also net a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.

Earlier in this pandemic, the shortage of tests for the coronavirus was a major problem in fighting the spread of COVID-19. The shortage was such that many hospitals and clinics would test only someone who had traveled to a country with an outbreak, had a known exposure to a positive case or showed symptoms of the disease.

But access to tests has improved significantly, and in some places, people can now get tested without having to show any symptoms at all. So if you can get tested, should you?

I need to take a trip that would be either a few hours flying or multiple days driving. Which is safer?

As lockdown orders are relaxed to some capacity in countries around the world, travel is starting to see an uptick for the first time since mid-March. But when it comes to taking a longer trip, is it better to travel by car or by plane?

The bleak milestone the U.S. is about to hit — 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 — is far above the number of deaths seen from the pandemic in any other country.

So far, the impact of the coronavirus has been felt unevenly, striking certain cities and regions and particular segments of society much harder than others.

Updated July 4, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET

It has been months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But given that coronavirus cases continue to surge in many places, what's safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household.

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