Laurel Wamsley | KUNR

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.

Racism is a scourge in American society. It's also a serious public health threat, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement released Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky pointed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, as seen in case numbers, deaths and social consequence.

Vaccine "passports" are making headlines and eliciting emergency measures by governors in a handful of states.

So what are these credentials, exactly, and what are they used for?

What is a vaccine passport?

It's a credential that can be used to show that a person has been vaccinated. The same technology can be used to show a person's coronavirus test results. It's a way to demonstrate a person's health status, generally through a smartphone app or a QR code that has been printed.

Updated April 6, 2021 at 4:49 PM ET

Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator with the Minneapolis Police Department, was the third witness called on Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin is facing charges of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death last May.

Mackenzie, who trains officers in medical support, was asked by defense attorney Eric Nelson about "agonal breathing," which can occur in people in distress such as a medical emergency.

When President Biden unveiled his major new infrastructure plan last week, the proposal included much more than fixing crumbling bridges. And for those who wish America had a more robust passenger train network, it gave them something new: hope.

Two bystanders, testifying for the prosecution, described what they witnessed in the fatal interaction between George Floyd and Minneapolis Police in testimony Wednesday during the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020, death of Floyd.

Charles McMillian, 61, lives in Minneapolis near Cup Foods.

Updated March 31, 2021 at 5:09 PM ET

The Pentagon announced new policies on Wednesday that undo the Trump-era rules that effectively banned transgender people from serving in the military.

As more Americans get vaccinated, the desire to get back out into the world and enjoy activities again is strong. The idea of so-called vaccine passports is increasingly discussed as a way for those who are vaccinated or negative for the coronavirus to prove they are virus-free, and return to something approaching normalcy.

But there is skepticism in some circles, particularly on the right, about the use of such tools, even though they largely don't exist yet in the United States.

A major reshuffling of the government continues in Brazil as the Ministry of Defense announced that the commanders of the army, navy and air force will each be replaced.

The shake-up began Monday when Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo tendered his resignation. A few hours later, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva said that he too was leaving the government.

Amid growing optimism about the rising pace of vaccinations in the U.S., the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has one request for the American people: Don't act as if the pandemic is over – it's not.

In an emotional plea during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on Monday, the CDC chief, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, described a feeling of "impending doom."

"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope," Walensky said. "But right now, I'm scared."

New Zealand's Parliament has approved legislation that will provide three days of paid leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth, without needing to use sick leave.

"The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave," said member of Parliament Ginny Andersen, according to Reuters. "Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time."

When New York was hit hard in the early days of the pandemic last March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration gave his family members preferential access to coronavirus testing, according to several news reports.

The allegations were first reported in Albany, N.Y.'s Times Union and later in The Washington Post and The New York Times. The reports, which NPR has not independently confirmed, cited unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter.

The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote is a history-making one: Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

The vote was 52-48 in favor of her confirmation.

Levine was previously Pennsylvania's secretary of health, where she led the commonwealth's COVID-19 response.

Updated March 24, 2021 at 1:32 PM ET

A gunman shot and killed 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday afternoon.

The victims ranged from age 20 to 65. Some of them were shopping at the store; some worked there. One was a police officer who arrived to help.

Here's what we know about the lives that they lived. We will update this story as we learn more.

Eric Talley, 51

Regal Cinemas will reopen its theaters in the U.S. in April, six months after they closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Updated March 23, 2021 at 10:51 AM ET

In a year when so much about schooling has changed, add this to the list: A significant increase in the number of households where students were homeschooled.

That's according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, an online survey that asks questions about how the pandemic is changing life in U.S. homes.

Saudi Arabia has proposed a peace deal to end the nearly six-year war in Yemen, if the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels agree.

The Saudi proposal calls for a nationwide ceasefire and reopening the airport in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

"The initiative aims to end the human suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, and affirms the Kingdom's support for efforts to reach a comprehensive political resolution," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

As the NCAA men's basketball tournament tips off in Indiana, some of the players want to remind everyone of the control that the NCAA exerts over their lives — including their names, images and likenesses.

Under the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty, a protest was launched Wednesday by Rutgers basketball player Geo Baker, Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon and Michigan basketball player Isaiah Livers, all upperclassmen on Big Ten teams.

The European Medicines Agency said the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, after several EU member states, including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, suspended its use over reports of blood clots in a small number of people who received it.

Updated March 17, 2021 at 7:10 PM ET

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died at age 61. The news was announced Wednesday on state television by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who said the cause of death was heart failure.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will spend $10 billion to expand testing for schools, to aid in the president's goal to get schools open once again.

The funds will come from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package President Biden signed last week.

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