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.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Amid staggering job losses in March and April, Florida's unemployment system was the slowest in the country to process claims. Residents described nightmarish experiences as they tried to get benefits. By April 20, just 6% of Floridians who had applied for unemployment benefits had received a check.

Michelle Obama said that she's dealing with "some form of low-grade depression" due to the coronavirus lockdown, racial strife in the U.S., and the Trump administration.

In the second episode of her new podcast, the former first lady spoke with her friend Michele Norris, the former longtime host of NPR's All Things Considered.

A Louisiana man will continue to spend his life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers, after the state's Supreme Court denied his request to review a lower court's sentence.

Fair Wayne Bryant was convicted in 1997 of stealing the hedge clippers. Prosecutors pursued and won a life sentence in the case, a penalty permissible under the state's habitual offender law. Bryant appealed the life sentence as too severe.

In the midst of another hot summer and an ongoing pandemic, public parks are vital refuge. But a new study has found that access to parks in the U.S. differs sharply according to income and race.

A study published by The Trust for Public Land found that parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are, on average, half the size of parks that serve majority-white populations, and are potentially five times more crowded.

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.

Afghan forces have retaken control of a prison in eastern Afghanistan, a day after it came under an attack by ISIS militants.

A suicide bomber drove a car loaded with bombs into the prison's main gate, exploding it. ISIS fighters moved in through the gap, firing on prison guards.

Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor's spokesman, told The Associated Press that 29 people had died, including civilians, prisoners, guards and Afghan forces. Another 50 or more people were wounded, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman told Reuters.

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.

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.

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.

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