Vanessa Romo | WYPR

Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.

Before her stint on the News Desk, Romo spent the early months of the Trump Administration on the Washington Desk covering stories about culture and politics – the voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of Maxine Waters as a septuagenarian pop culture icon and DACA quinceañeras as Trump protests.

In 2016, she was at the core of the team that launched and produced The New York Times' first political podcast, The Run-Up with Michael Barbaro. Prior to that, Romo was a Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism where she began working on a radio documentary about a pilot program in Los Angeles teaching black and Latino students to code switch.

Romo has also traveled extensively through the Member station world in California and Washington. As the education reporter at Southern California Public Radio, she covered the region's K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and won the Education Writers Association first place award as well as a Regional Edward R. Murrow for Hard News Reporting.

Before that, she covered business and labor for Member station KNKX, keeping an eye on global companies including Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft.

A Los Angeles native, she is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where she received a degree in history. She also earned a master's degree in Journalism from NYU. She loves all things camaron-based.

Three former staff members of a Michigan youth home have been charged in the death of a 16-year-old Black boy. He died last month after employees sat on his chest, abdomen and legs in an effort to restrain him.

The Trump administration is defending plans to close 13 federally run coronavirus testing sites in five states at the end of the month.

The testing sites are located in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas. They are the last of 41 federally operated testing sites.

Federal officials say the sites have been closing or transferring to state or local control because it's more efficient to run testing that way. In other instances they argue there are readily available testing sites nearby.

The mystery near and around Stonehenge keeps growing.

The latest revelation is the discovery of a ring of at least 20 prehistoric shafts about 2 miles from the famous Neolithic site of immense upright stones, according to an announcement from the University of Bradford.

Updated at 8:39 p.m. ET

Californians are required to wear face coverings in high-risk settings as the state continues to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide order on Thursday. It follows new guidance from the California Department of Public Health that asymptomatic or presymptomatic people can still spread the disease.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday announced a new initiative to expand diversity and inclusion within the filmmaking industry, as it faces renewed criticism over a lack of diverse representation on screen and behind the scenes.

The latest effort to de-white-ify the film community, called "Academy Aperture 2025," includes a plan to require Oscar nominees to meet certain diversity and inclusion standards.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

NASCAR has banned the Confederate battle flag at all of its events and properties.

In a Wednesday tweet, the stock car racing organization said the presence of the flag "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and industry."

"Bringing people together around the love of racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sports special," the statement said.

The American Civil Liberties Union says a federal judge has temporarily blocked the deportation of a 16-year-old Honduran boy in a case that challenges the Trump administration's recently enacted policy, based on federal health statutes, of expelling unaccompanied minors without due process.

The ACLU says the boy entered the United States alone last week and was scheduled to be deported Wednesday. According to the ACLU, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the D.C. Circuit blocked the deportation late Tuesday.

Thousands of protesters who have been arrested in Los Angeles for violating curfew or failing to disperse will not be prosecuted, county and city officials announced Monday.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET

One week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody, demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism continued across the United States. Many cities imposed curfews, and President Trump again warned he would order active duty military forces to restore order if state and local governments, in his judgement, failed to do so.

Here are details of some protests around the country.

St. Louis

Updated 7:37 p.m. ET

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a new autopsy report Monday, ruling George Floyd's death was a homicide. The office said Floyd's heart and lungs stopped functioning "while being restrained" by law enforcement officers.

Floyd died due to "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression," according to the report.

California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest round of modifications to the state's stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made an unannounced visit to Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Del., on Monday.

It's the first time Biden has left the area around his home in Wilmington since mid-March, when he began self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He and his wife, Jill Biden, both wearing black masks, placed a wreath before a memorial wall commemorating war veterans from Delaware and New Jersey.

Before they became world-famous mop-top icons, the Beatles looked like a bunch of greasers. And photographer Astrid Kirchherr is often credited as the first to capture the band's fashion evolution as well as influencing their new direction.

Aimee Stephens, the transgender woman at the center of a major employment rights case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, died in Detroit on Tuesday at age 59.

Stephens was the first transgender person whose civil rights case was heard by the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented her. Her case concerns the question of whether federal law prohibiting employment discrimination applies to transgender employees.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will follow through on her threat to take legal action against two Native American tribes that have defied orders to remove highway checkpoints onto tribal land in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on their reservations.

Coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities have surpassed a grim threshold in much of the country, accounting for at least a third of the deaths in 26 states and more than half in 14 of those.

The data, which was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports tallies from a variety of care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care residences, and other skilled nursing care settings. However, it does not break out those categories separately.

There's a call Laura Jean Truman is dreading, and she's convinced it's just a matter of time before it comes.

Truman, who's a server at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta, says the source of her angst is the fear that sometime in the next few weeks her boss is going to call and say it's time to go back to work, putting her in the position of having to make a choice between her safety and being able to pay the bills that continue to arrive despite the coronavirus.

"Right now, everyone who is not working at restaurants is able to be on unemployment," she told NPR.

As the COVID-19 pandemic besieged New York City, Dr. Lorna Breen was on the front lines, striving to slow the onslaught of critically ill patients that have made the city the center of the outbreak in the U.S.

Breen continued her work at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital as medical director of the emergency department even after she too contracted, then recovered from, the virus.

On Sunday, the woman many regard as a hero died of self-inflicted injuries, according to police. Her family later spoke publicly about Breen's death.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is undeterred by President Trump's criticism of his move to reopen some nonessential businesses. He insists he will forge ahead with plans to jump-start the economy as early as Friday.

The governor said on Wednesday night that he plans to restart "shuttered businesses for limited operations" ahead of the state's shelter-in-place order being lifted on April 30.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Wednesday called for restaurants, hotels and casinos in the gambling mecca to reopen, saying competition would ultimately determine which were safest to visit and that only establishments with the most infections should be forced to close down.

Goodman, an independent, made the remarks on CNN, insisting that as mayor she bears no responsibility for figuring out how to safely maintain social distancing guidelines.

New York has begun "the most aggressive" statewide antibody testing to help determine how much of the population has been infected by and recovered from the coronavirus — a step health officials say is essential for reopening the economy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that state Department of Health officials plan to randomly select 3,000 people for tests that will look for indications that their bodies have fought off the virus, even if they were never tested or showed any symptoms.

The United States and Mexico are extending restrictions on nonessential travel across their shared border for an additional 30 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes on the heels of a similar announcement of an agreement with Canada over the weekend.

Crashing servers, outmoded software and overloaded call centers are some of the obstacles standing between millions of unemployed workers and the financial lifeline the government has promised under the $2 trillion relief package approved late last month.

With every passing week the problem is exacerbated by new waves of jobless or laid-off workers whose paychecks have vanished since the coronavirus pandemic crippled the U.S. economy.

Concern is mounting after a doctor at a Texas nursing home started giving the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to dozens of elderly patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and tracking the outcomes in what he's calling an "observational study."

Use of the drug to treat coronavirus infections has set up a heated debate between the Trump administration and leading health experts over its efficacy against COVID-19.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 731 more people died on Monday due to the coronavirus, marking the largest single-day increase in fatalities in the state since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The latest surge brings the total number of deaths in New York to 5,489 — nearly half of all deaths caused by the virus in the U.S. — and comes even as the three-day average of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are dropping, Cuomo said.

Updated at 3:10 a.m. ET Tuesday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved into intensive care at St. Thomas' Hospital in London after days of persistent symptoms, including a fever and a cough, according to British media quoting the prime minister's office.

The governors of Alabama and Missouri on Friday announced stay-at-home orders, leaving only a handful of state holdouts that continue to defy expert advice to self-quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise.

A federal judge in California is weighing whether to grant an emergency order to release unaccompanied minors in government custody to protect them from contracting COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California said on Friday she wants migrant children who were apprehended crossing into the United States alone to be "released to suitable sponsors in an orderly fashion," the Associated Press reported. But Gee stopped short of mandating their immediate release.

The United States on Friday surpassed more than 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, doubling the number of known infections counted just three days ago.

Data from Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the global spread of the disease, shows 101,657 people have been diagnosed in the U.S. as of Friday evening. More than 1,560 people have died.

The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package marks the largest rescue package in American history. President Trump announced Wednesday that it includes $300 million in direct payments to individuals to alleviate at least a little of the financial pain caused by the deliberate near-standstill of the U.S. economy.

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