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.

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 protests for racial justice in Portland have continued for more than 50 nights, striking new images and tactics have emerged – particularly in resistance to the federal law enforcement officers whose actions have earned the ire of Oregonians who want them to leave.

Updated at 6:19 p.m. ET

FBI agents arrested Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning at his rural farm. Householder was taken into custody in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates.

Four others were also arrested: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes.

Amid all the COVID-19 figures released by Florida's Department of Health, one number might come as a head-scratcher: A whopping 31.1% coronavirus positivity rate among those under 18 who are tested for the virus, according to the state's most recent pediatric report.

Meanwhile, Florida's overall positivity rate is currently 18.1%.

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."

Noting that Speker had won an activities coordinator award, Sydmar Lodge notes that he "performs his activities with creativeness, ingenuity, individuality and originality" and recently took a resident swimming for the first time in 20 years.

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.

A mural with the words "Black Lives Matter" will soon emblazon Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, right in front of one specific landmark: Trump Tower.

On Thursday morning, work crews blocked off traffic between 56th and 57th streets. Groups of painters then used rollers to start filling in large yellow letters on the pavement.

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."

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment trial of President Trump, will retire Wednesday after 21 years in the military.

Vindman is leaving the Army "after it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited," his lawyer, David Pressman, said in a statement. Recently, controversy has grown over an abnormal stall in his promotion to the rank of full colonel.

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.

Updated at 2:40 p.m.

A federal judge has ruled that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline must be emptied for now while the Army Corps of Engineers produces an environmental review.

In a decision posted Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said that it was clear shutting down the pipeline will cause disruption. But he said that "the seriousness of the Corps' deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow" during the estimated 13 months it will take to complete the environmental impact statement.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

Virginia's capital city began taking down its statue of Stonewall Jackson after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of multiple Confederate statues in Richmond.

A crane and a cherry picker swiftly arrived on the city's Monument Avenue to remove the statue of the Confederate general. Crowds gathered to watch and cheer the crew's work, reported Mallory Noe-Payne of NPR member station WVTF.

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 9:24 p.m. ET

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a clear face shield to protect against the coronavirus, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty on Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder. The string of murders in the 1970s and '80s terrorized California, and the suspect who committed them became known as the Golden State Killer.

Updated at 11:31 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the federal death penalty method, allowing the executions of four men scheduled in the coming weeks to go forward. They would be the first uses of the death penalty in federal cases since 2003.

The court's order was posted Monday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor indicated that they would have considered the case.

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.

The second part of the order.
National Archives

Updated at 7:48 p.m. ET

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."

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision Thursday that extends the life of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The ruling was a big surprise to many, including DACA recipients who worried they might soon face deportation.

"I couldn't believe it," Emma Chalott Barron, a DACA recipient who will be starting law school at the University of North Texas in the fall, told NPR member station KERA in Dallas.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to lift its 16-year moratorium on the renaming of campus buildings.

"Many people have realized it's important to move forward with some of these issues. And that's what we intend to do on this campus," said Board of Trustees Chair Richard Stevens, as NPR member station WUNC reports. "It's a moment of leadership. It's time to do it."

Pages