Laurel Wamsley | New Hampshire Public Radio

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 7:06 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has cleared the way to open the country's largest national forest to more development and logging.

In a revised environmental impact study made public on Friday, the Department of Agriculture recommends granting a "full exemption" for the Tongass National Forest, which covers some 25,000 square miles in southeastern Alaska.

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.

Along the western coast of Tasmania, marine conservationists are gathering to conduct a massive operation: the rescue of some 270 pilot whales that have been stranded on sandbars there.

Tasmania is an island state of Australia, about 150 miles south of the mainland. The whales were first reported stuck on Monday morning.

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.

Wildfires have now burned more than 4.6 million acres in 87 large fires across 10 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. At least 35 people have died in California, Oregon and Washington, The Associated Press reported.

Dense smoke and fog enveloped an area far beyond the fires on Monday, keeping temperatures cooler but also creating new hazards in an ongoing catastrophe, with reduced visibility and a high risk of smoke inhalation.

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.

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

Louisville, Ky., police have arrested dozens of protesters who staged a sit-in on an overpass.

Tuesday afternoon's protest marked the final day of an event known as "BreonnaCon," which called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whom police shot and killed while executing a "no-knock" warrant in her home in March.

The sit-in took place near the city's Cardinal Stadium, NPR member station WFPL in Louisville reported.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. ET

The former police officer known as the Golden State Killer was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Joseph James DeAngelo, now 74, admitted to committing more than a dozen murders in the 1970s and '80s after investigators identified him as a suspect using public genealogy websites to trace his DNA.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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