Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.

Before her stint on the News Desk, Romo spent the early months of the Trump Administration on the Washington Desk covering stories about culture and politics – the voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of Maxine Waters as a septuagenarian pop culture icon and DACA quinceañeras as Trump protests.

In 2016, she was at the core of the team that launched and produced The New York Times' first political podcast, The Run-Up with Michael Barbaro. Prior to that, Romo was a Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism where she began working on a radio documentary about a pilot program in Los Angeles teaching black and Latino students to code switch.

Romo has also traveled extensively through the Member station world in California and Washington. As the education reporter at Southern California Public Radio, she covered the region's K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and won the Education Writers Association first place award as well as a Regional Edward R. Murrow for Hard News Reporting.

Before that, she covered business and labor for Member station KNKX, keeping an eye on global companies including Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft.

A Los Angeles native, she is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where she received a degree in history. She also earned a master's degree in Journalism from NYU. She loves all things camaron-based.

A team of fast-acting health care workers saved the day — and potentially hundreds of lives — on Monday after a freezer malfunction nearly destroyed 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Somewhere around 2 a.m. the compressor of the freezer holding vials of the medicine at the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County, Calif., failed, President Judson Howe told NPR.

That started a ticking clock on the shelf life of the vaccines, which can only be used for 12 hours once they're removed from refrigeration of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning health care workers that any changes to the authorized dosing schedules of COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered will significantly place public health at risk and undermine "the historic vaccination effort to protect the population" from the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

The Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine at Christmastime told police he did it because he believed the drug is somehow hazardous.

"He'd formed this belief they were unsafe," Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said of Steven Brandenburg on Monday during a virtual hearing, The Associated Press reported.

Florida is the third U.S. state to announce it has a case of the more contagious coronavirus strain that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

A man in his 20s, with no history of travel, tested positive for the mutated coronavirus. The state Department of Health said he is in Martin County.

Updated at 2:05 a.m. ET

A Milwaukee pharmacist was arrested Thursday and accused of "tampering with and causing the destruction" of more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus last week, Grafton, Wis., police confirmed.

In a statement, Grafton Police Department officials said the pharmacist — now fired from the Advocate Aurora Health hospital system — was arrested on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.

A now-former employee at a Wisconsin medical center "intentionally removed" 57 vials of a coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration, forcing officials to throw out nearly 500 doses, according to an internal investigation.

The new highly contagious coronavirus strain from the U.K. has spread to Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday.

He made the statement during an online conversation about the pandemic with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, but Newsom offered little additional information about the circumstances of the diagnosis.

The first case of the coronavirus variant in the U.S. was detected in Colorado on Tuesday. Experts have said it spreads faster than the common strain.

The U.S. Department of Justice will not charge any of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old boy who was killed by police in Cleveland in 2014. The department has closed its investigation.

The Justice Department announced it found insufficient evidence to "support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback."

Columbus, Ohio, Officer Adam Coy, who fatally shot Andre Hill, a Black man during an early morning nonemergency call last week, was fired Monday.

Police Chief Tom Quinlan, as well as the city's mayor and other leaders, have called for Coy's dismissal since the shooting on Dec. 22. Following a disciplinary hearing Monday, Public Safety Director Ned Pettus agreed.

Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the nation's highest-ranking infectious disease experts, suggested on Tuesday she'll likely retire ... soonish.

Virginia and Maryland are sending thousands of extra COVID-19 vaccine doses out of their own supply to the District of Columbia as the city scrambles to inoculate health care workers amid the worsening pandemic.

Each state is sending 8,000 additional doses to the nation's capital. The move will more than triple the amount of the medicine that was allotted by the federal government.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

Debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccinations will be swiftly removed from Twitter starting next week, the company announced on Wednesday.

And moving into 2021, officials said, the company may start placing labels or warnings on messages containing "unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines."

5, 6, 7, 8!

Health care workers in Boston are "feeling good as hell" over the arrival of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine.

Masked employees in scrubs, medical gowns, office attire, and what's proving to be very popular camel-colored coat, performed a choreographed dance routine outside of the Boston Medical Center as inside, health care workers prepared to begin delivering injections to some of those most exposed to the virus — health care workers.

The St. Louis prosecutor spearheading the case against Mark McCloskey, one half of the husband-and-wife team accused of menacing Black Lives Matter protesters with weapons, has been removed from the case.

Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II on Thursday dismissed Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and her entire staff, saying campaign fundraising emails Gardner sent to constituents that alluded to Mark and Patricia McCloskey's case "raise the appearance of impropriety and jeopardize the defendant's right to a fair trial," The Associated Press reported.

A new kerfuffle is unfolding in a House oversight committee with the Democratic chair accusing White House appointees of political meddling and attempting to influence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strategies on the coronavirus pandemic in a manner that paints the administration in a more favorable light.

The leader of an anti-government white supremacist militia group and former sheriff's deputy has been convicted of hate crime charges after a pipe bomb attack on a Minnesota mosque in 2017.

Jurors found Michael Hari guilty on five counts, including damaging property because of its religious character, forcibly obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, conspiracy to commit felonies with fire and explosives, using a destructive device in a crime of violence, and possessing an unregistered destructive device.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. past another dire milestone Wednesday, the highest daily death toll to date, even while the mortality rate has decreased as health experts learn more about the disease.

The Covid Tracking Project, which tracks state-level coronavirus data, reported 3,054 COVID-19 related deaths — a significant jump from the previous single-day record of 2,769 on May 7.

A federal judge has found the Seattle Police Department in contempt for violating an order to stop the "indiscriminate" use of chemical irritants or projectiles against protesters except in cases where officers faced imminent danger.

The Monday ruling by Judge Richard Jones of the Western District of Washington in Seattle said the department had failed to prove that its use of pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls and paint balls during four Black Lives Matter protests was warranted.

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced most of the state will come under a stricter set of limitations as intensive care units reach near-capacity levels with the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Regional stay-at-home orders will likely go into effect "in the next day or two" in places with less than 15% ICU availability, Newsom explained in a daily briefing with reporters.

The U.S. Soccer Federation has reached a proposed settlement with the Women's National Team in a legal battle over working conditions but a dispute over equal pay with that of their male counterparts continues.

The agreement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday, is a partial victory for the World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team, who will see an improvement in hotel accommodations, venues, travel and staffing that will put them on equal footing with players on the Men's National Team.

A controversial coronavirus adviser to the president, Dr. Scott Atlas, resigned Monday, a White House official told NPR.

Atlas, who is not an infectious disease expert and whose brief stint was marred by blunders and controversy, was tapped by the Trump administration to serve as special adviser to the president in August. Since then, "the MRI guy" has repeatedly been at odds with the nation's leading health officials regarding his views on how to combat the spread of the virus, including members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister has died of COVID-19-related complications, his party announced early Thursday.

Sadiq al-Mahdi was 84.

He died in hospital in the United Arab Emirates, where he was receiving treatment after becoming infected with the coronavirus, the National Umma Party, which he led until his death, announced Thursday.

Tyson Foods Inc., which says it produces 20% of the beef, pork and chicken in the U.S., has suspended managers at an Iowa plant accused of participating in a betting pool on how many employees would become ill with COVID-19.

President and CEO Dean Banks also announced on Thursday the company has launched an investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder into the allegations.

Updated at 3:20 a.m. ET

The first COVID-19 diagnostic at-home self-test that provides rapid results has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency announced Tuesday.

The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular single-use test and is expected to cost $50 or less, the company said on its website.

As California's "unprecedented" coronavirus surge worsens, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he's pulling "the emergency brake" and implementing the state's most restrictive safety measures across most counties, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The shift into the "purple tier" for 41 of 58 counties comes as the number of daily new coronavirus cases doubled in the past 10 days in California, Newsom told reporters.

"We are sounding the alarm," the governor said, acknowledging the move will have a detrimental impact on businesses.

An Indianapolis police officer who fatally shot a man after a high-speed car chase that was captured on Facebook Live will not face criminal charges.

A grand jury on Tuesday declined to indict Dejoure Mercer who shot and killed Dreasjon "Sean" Reed on May 6.

Updated on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 9:53 p.m. ET

As coronavirus cases again surge across the country, the outdoors remains a rare and safe refuge for Americans, particularly for those struggling with anxiety or depression due to the pandemic.

On Wednesday, those hoping to reap the benefits of fresh air and the unseasonably warm weather in much of the country can explore national parks and forests for free in honor of Veterans Day.

A history-making storm is gaining momentum over the middle of the Atlantic.

Monday, Subtropical Storm Theta became the 29th named storm of the year, surpassing the 28 storms of 2005 and making the 2020 hurricane season the busiest on record.

The system is not expected to make landfall in the U.S.

As of 10 p.m. ET , the National Weather Service reported Theta is moving east through the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts.

Philadelphia city officials on Wednesday released "traumatic" bodycam footage worn by the officers who fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr. last week, urging the public to remain calm as the city comes under national scrutiny for the shooting.

The Philadelphia Police Department also released multiple 911 calls made by neighbors and Wallace's own family, pleading for help as the 27-year-old experienced a violent psychological episode.

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