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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.

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.

As Europe struggles to get enough vaccine and to contain a third wave of the coronavirus, the European Commission has created a plan for a digital certificate to facilitate travel across its 27 member states.

The proposal from the European Union's executive body will be discussed next week at a summit of EU leaders.

One aspect of the plan is important to note: it does not require vaccination as a pre-condition to travel.

Many people coped with the pandemic year, in part, by welcoming a dog into their home. The surge in adoptions left some shelters low on dogs to take home.

But some people were very particular about what kind of dogs they chose. The American Kennel Club has released its rankings of the most popular dog breeds of 2020.

The most popular? The Labrador Retriever – for the 30th straight year.

As President Biden pushes to get students back in schools, there's one crucial question: How much social distance is necessary in the classroom?

The answer (to that question) has huge consequences for how many students can safely fit into classrooms. Public schools in particular are finding it difficult to accommodate a full return if 6 feet of social distancing is required — a key factor behind many schools offering hybrid schedules that bring students back to the classroom just a few days a week.

Donald Trump may be out of the White House, but he continues to cause fractures within some conservative communities.

One of those is the Southern Baptist Convention, where Beth Moore, one of its most prominent women, this week left the church, having declared that she is "no longer a Southern Baptist."

A year into the coronavirus pandemic, the enormous changes in our lives have become unremarkable: The collection of fabric masks. Visits with friends or family only in small outdoor gatherings. Working or learning from home. Downtowns deserted at noon on a weekday.

While some changes happened gradually, there was one day that marked the beginning of the new normal.

March 11, 2020.

On that day in the United States, the pandemic future arrived all at once.

A historic day begins with other news

Updated March 9, 2021 at 4:06 PM ET

In her first public response to Prince Harry and Meghan's extraordinary interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this week, Queen Elizabeth II says the royal family is "saddened" to learn the extent of the challenges faced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Kate Ray and her husband, David, had just moved into a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Denver last March.

"It was brilliant for about two days," she recalls. The high-rise building offered floor-to-ceiling windows, a gorgeous roof deck and an outdoor pool.

Then the pandemic arrived, and their jobs went remote. "The pool closed within like 48 hours of us moving in," says Ray, 34. "The gym closed. All of the amenities closed."

Can gambling profits support the newspaper business? The company that owns the Toronto Star is betting on it.

Torstar Corporation announced Tuesday that it would launch an online casino brand later this year, pending approval by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is lifting the state's mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100%. Abbott, a Republican, said the mandates are no longer needed due to advancements of vaccines and therapeutics to protect against COVID-19.

Amid criticism of the FBI's handling of its findings of planned violence on Jan. 6, FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency's methods of sharing intelligence with law enforcement on the evening before the insurrection.

A situational intelligence report from the FBI's Norfolk office conveyed specific threats made online against members of Congress, maps of the tunnel system under the Capitol complex and places to meet before traveling together to Washington. But this intelligence was raw, consisting of online information that had not yet been analyzed or corroborated.

New York's attorney general is proceeding with an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor's office authorized the probe, clearing the way for the hiring of an independent law firm to conduct the inquiry.

Catalan police raided the FC Barcelona stadium on Monday, and there are reports that the club's former president and three others have been arrested.

The police said several searches and seizures were carried out by its financial crimes unit, but did not give additional details.

A former adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shared details of alleged sexual harassment by the governor, including an unwanted kiss and touching. A spokeswoman for Cuomo denied the allegations.

In a post on Medium published Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan describes troubling behavior from the time she first met the governor in January 2016. Boylan served as an economic advisor in the Cuomo administration from 2015 to 2018.

The average U.S. life expectancy dropped by a year in the first half of 2020, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population was 77.8 years – a decline of 1 year from 78.8 in 2019. For males, the life expectancy at birth was 75.1 – a decline of 1.2 years from 2019. For females, life expectancy declined to 80.5 years, a 0.9 year decrease from 2019.

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in office three weeks. He arrives at a challenging time: the U.S. must figure out how to deal with China, Russia and Iran, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, and the State Department must rise from the morale slump it suffered during the Trump administration.

In an interview Tuesday with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, Blinken said that "there is no doubt" that the ability of American diplomats to promote democracy and human rights has been "tarnished by recent events."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they are expecting their second child.

"We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child," a spokesperson for the couple told Reuters on Sunday.

The couple did not say when the baby is due, or whether they know its gender.

A Wisconsin judge has refused to issue a new arrest warrant for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with killing two people in Kenosha, Wis., during protests last summer.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder also refused to increase Rittenhouse's bail.

Updated at 1:32 p.m. ET

China's broadcasting regulator has banned the BBC World Service from airing there, according to a report in Chinese state media. The news follows a move by Britain's communications regulator last week to strip the state-run China global television network of its broadcast license in the U.K.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it will begin enforcing the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move follows an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office instructing agencies to enforce prohibitions on such discrimination.

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