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.

When the CDC announced on Thursday that fully vaccinated people can safely take off their masks in most settings, one group that did not necessarily breathe a sigh of relief was the parents of young children.

Some noted that the CDC's new guidance does not have any specific advice for vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids in their households.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced new guidance that fully vaccinated people can safely do most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing masks or social distancing.

But much of the transportation sector still operates on pandemic-era rules. Here's what is and isn't changed by the updated guidance.

What does the new guidance mean for mask requirements on public transit and air travel?

Updated May 13, 2021 at 5:49 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance Thursday.

"You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said.

Updated May 12, 2021 at 7:20 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be given to adolescents ages 12-15.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a statement saying, "The CDC now recommends the vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away."

A Minnesota judge has found aggravating factors in Derek Chauvin's murder of George Floyd — a finding that dramatically increases the likelihood of a longer sentence.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty last month of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

The debate over race in America has reached the world of competitive debate itself, as the team from Morehouse College withdrew from a national tournament after members say they experienced mockery, bias and dismissal. Other teams followed Morehouse's departure from the tournament, leading to its cancellation and a forum about race in the debate community.

Updated April 29, 2021 at 5:15 PM ET

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is moving to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, based on the evidence of the addictiveness and harm of the products. Tobacco companies have long targeted African Americans with advertising for menthol cigarettes.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has asked the U.S. Department of Justice for a formal review of racial bias in the city's police force.

Ginther and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein spoke with Justice Department Acting Deputy Director Robert Chapman about the city's police on Monday.

Updated April 28, 2021 at 3:45 PM ET

A judge in North Carolina ordered law enforcement body camera footage of the death of Andrew Brown Jr. disclosed to his family, but not released to the public until completion of a state investigation into Brown's death.

Judge Jeffrey Foster ordered the videos disclosed to Brown's family within 10 days.

A Georgia sheriff has been indicted on federal civil rights charges, including charges that he approved a policy to use chair restraints.

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill faces four charges that he deprived detainees of the right to due process and freedom from use of unreasonable force by law enforcement, amounting to punishment. The offenses "caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury" to the four detainees during incidents described in court documents.

Editor's note: Apple and Facebook are among NPR's financial supporters.

Starting Monday, iPhone and iPad users will have a simple but powerful new way to control how their data is used.

With Apple's latest software update, iOS 14.5, iPhone and iPad users will now encounter pop-ups in the apps they use, asking whether the user wants to allow the app "to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites." The user can then select whether or not to allow the app to track them and share their data.

Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist with a reality-show family, announced Friday that she will run for governor of California. The state's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, is likely to face a recall election this year.

Jenner, a 71-year-old Republican, said she had filed paperwork to run for the office.

"Californians want better and need better from their politicians," she wrote on Twitter.

Updated April 23, 2021 at 7:16 PM ET

Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is allowed again now that a panel of experts has voted to put it back in distribution despite rare blood clotting problems.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday after the panel voted that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, and its benefits outweigh the known risks.

The potential lasting effects of COVID-19 infection are many — and people with more severe initial infections are at greater risk for long-term complications, according to a study published Thursday in Nature.

The study, thought to be the largest post-acute COVID-19 study to date, sheds more light on the lingering effects of COVID-19 known as "long COVID."

Peeling paint. Cracked buckets. Employees dragging unsealed bags of medical waste. Procedures ignored. Inadequately trained staff.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM ET

The jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all the counts he faced over the death of George Floyd. The trial has been one of the most closely watched cases in recent memory, setting off a national reckoning on police violence and systemic racism even before the trial commenced.

Chauvin, 45, has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Updated April 19, 2021 at 4:11 PM ET

The defense made its closing arguments Monday in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin is facing counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson began by discussing the presumption of innocence and the state's burden of proving Chauvin's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday it needed more time to consider whether to recommend to resume administering the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.

Kenosha, Wis., police said Tuesday that Rusten Sheskey, the police officer who shot Jacob Blake last summer, has been found to have acted within the law and department policy.

The defense called on Officer Peter Chang of the Minneapolis Park Police to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who is on trial on murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd.

Chang was stationed at a nearby park last May 25 when he heard a dispatch on his radio asking for assistance. He was one of the closer officers to Cup Foods, so he went to the scene.

It's common for park police to assist Minneapolis city police, Chang said, and explained that officers in both forces attend the same police academy.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's attorney called on Shawanda Hill to testify on Tuesday morning. Chauvin is on trial on murder and manslaughter charges in George Floyd's death.

Hill told the court she was at the Cup Foods store last May 25 when she ran into Floyd, whom she knew. She described his behavior as "happy, normal, talking, alert."

She said Floyd offered to give her a ride to her house, and she went with him to the car he was driving.

Updated April 13, 2021 at 12:52 PM ET

The defense of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began presenting its case on Tuesday over the killing of George Floyd.

The first witness for the defense was former Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton. The defense showed Creighton's bodycam footage from a traffic stop in May 2019, in which the passenger of the car was Floyd.

Updated April 12, 2021 at 4:12 PM ET

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's younger brother, took the witness stand on Monday to testify in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Philonise Floyd, 39, lives in Houston, where he is married with two children.

Testifying for the prosecution, he reflected on a childhood in Houston with his oldest brother George as the two played Tecmo Bowl and Double Dribble on Nintendo.

After a fatal police shooting near Minneapolis on Sunday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's attorney expressed concern that jurors in his murder trial could be swayed by the events. Judge Peter Cahill denied the request to re-question jurors and immediately sequester them.

Cahill said the jury would be fully sequestered beginning next Monday when closing arguments are expected to start.

A new possible problem with Boeing's 737 Max airplanes has several airlines once again pulling dozens of the troubled jets out of service.

Boeing said in a statement that it has "recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations."

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.

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