Laurel Wamsley | Michigan Radio
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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.

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing for the eventual rollout of one or more COVID-19 vaccines — by identifying the concerns that some people have about taking such a vaccine.

At a meeting Thursday of experts advising the FDA on COVID-19 vaccines, the concerns of front-line workers and people of color were read aloud verbatim, highlighting the crucial project of communicating the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine in an environment of deep political distrust.

The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will stay closed to nonessential travel for at least another month.

Bill Blair, Canada's public safety minister, tweeted on Monday, "We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until November 21st, 2020. Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe."

Wells Fargo has fired more than 100 employees, saying they personally defrauded a coronavirus relief program from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In a memo sent Wednesday and obtained by NPR, the company said it had identified employees that it believes made false representations in applying for relief funds through the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The employees' actions were outside of their work responsibilities, the company said.

Updated at 4:59 p.m. ET

A Wisconsin judge has put a temporary hold on an order by Gov. Tony Evers' administration that limits the capacity of bars, restaurants and indoor spaces amid record numbers of coronavirus cases in the state.

Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET

Two coronavirus studies have been put on pause by drugmakers as they investigate safety concerns.

The pauses are not uncommon or cause for undue concern, but they highlight how little is known about the combination of medications prescribed to President Trump following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson paused all clinical trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after a study participant became sick with an "unexplained illness."

In a year that's been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidance Friday evening saying that aerosol transmission might be one of the "most common" ways the coronavirus is spreading — and then took the guidance down on Monday.

The now-deleted updates were notable because so far the CDC has stopped short of saying that the virus is airborne.

Updated 2:50 p.m. ET Wednesday

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will no longer pay for some safety measures related to COVID-19 that it had previously covered.

Keith Turi, FEMA assistant administrator for recovery, announced the changes during a call Tuesday with state and tribal emergency managers, many of whom expressed concerns about the new policy.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Fewer than eight months ago, the U.S. had yet to experience its first confirmed case of a deadly disease that was sweeping through China and threatening to go global. Today, more than 6 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus and some 183,000 have died from it, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

After more than three months without any known community spread of the coronavirus in New Zealand, a new outbreak in Auckland has upset the fragile normalcy that had returned in the nation.

It was just Tuesday that the government said it had its first cases from an unknown source in 102 days, all within one family. By Friday, the outbreak had grown to 30 cases, including in other cities where members of the household had traveled.

An agreement that makes it easier for Rhode Island residents to vote by mail during the pandemic will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by Republicans to block it.

The agreement allows Rhode Islanders to vote in two upcoming elections without requiring voters to fill out mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. That requirement was already suspended for the presidential primary that took place June 2.

After more than 100 days without any community spread of COVID-19, New Zealand moved to an elevated alert level Wednesday with news of four new cases and another four probable ones.

More than three months after its last case of community spread, New Zealand has four new cases of the coronavirus from an unknown source. The island nation, seen as a global exemplar in the battle to contain the coronavirus, moved quickly to identify the source of transmission and halt further spread.

All four cases are members of the same family, who live in South Auckland, the government said Tuesday.

Updated at 4:51 p.m. ET Tuesday

New Zealand went 101 days without any community transmission of the coronavirus, and life in the country largely returned to normal – an experience far different from the havoc that the virus is causing elsewhere in the world.

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.

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.

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.

Updated Aug. 10: The Florida Department of Health says that the high positivity rate among children described below was due to a "computer programming error" in producing the pediatric data report.

In a statement, the DOH says that due to the error, "a subset of negative pediatric test results were unintentionally excluded from the pediatric report. The coding error was identified and has been corrected."

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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