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.

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.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid point-of-care COVID-19 test, that can deliver results in less than an hour.

Cepheid, a Silicon Valley diagnostics company, made the announcement on Saturday, saying it has received emergency authorization from the government to use the test.

There's hoarding and then there's HOARDING.

Stealing a truck that's hauling about 18,000 pounds of bathroom paper products during a global pandemic during which the commodity has become invaluable to the panicked public likely falls into the all-caps category.

On Wednesday, deputies from the Guilford County Sheriff's office in North Carolina said they came across the 18-wheel tractor trailer as it was traveling on Interstate 40 in Whitsett.

Starbucks says it is closing all U.S. company-operated cafes and is moving to drive-thru and delivery services in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The closures will start on Friday and last for at least two weeks, the company said in a statement.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday afternoon ordered all Illinois residents to stay at home, as the deadly coronavirus has spread to a quarter of the state's counties and infected more than 500 people.

The stricter limits will go into effect on Saturday.

Yes, it's a pandemic.

Yes, it's got us all freaked out.

And yes, it's our civic duty to remain at least 6 feet away from each other throughout this crisis.

But singles looking to mingle still have needs.

The U.S. military confirmed a sustained rocket attack on Wednesday on a base near Baghdad where American personnel are housed.

The attack killed two Americans, according to a U.S. military official, as well as one member of Britain's armed forces, multiple news outlets have reported.

Army Col. Myles Caggins, a military spokesman in Iraq, said a barrage of "more than 15 small rockets impacted Iraq's Camp Taji base hosting Coalition troops" at 7:35 p.m. local time.

He added that an investigation into the extent of the damage is ongoing.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered the Trump administration another win on one of its signature immigration policies on Wednesday, allowing it to continue the controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy across the entire southern border.

It's pretty much the thrift store dream; to find a rare, long lost treasure on a crowded tchotchke shelf, on sale for a bargain price.

That's what happened at the Hotline Pink Thrift Shop in Kitty Hawk, N.C., when Wendy Hawkins came across an otherwise ignored piece of art.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The city of Austin, Texas, has canceled South by Southwest, after a disaster was declared in response to the expanding coronavirus.

The annual event is a staple for the technology, music and film worlds; last year's edition drew more than 400,000 visitors to the city. The 2020 edition was slated to take place March 13 to 22.

In a statement Friday afternoon, SXSW said: "The city of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the city's directions."

Tavis Smiley has to pay up.

A Washington, D.C., jury decided on Wednesday that the former public television host, violated the morals clause of his contract by carrying on sexual relationships with multiple subordinates. Now, they agreed, he owes the broadcaster nearly $1.5 million.

Smiley, who was fired in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations, sued PBS contending he was dropped from the network as a result of racial bias and that he was wrongly terminated. Smiley was the only solo black host of a show on the broadcasting organization's airwaves.

A few days before Christmas in 2000, Beverly Hills police received an unsigned note in the mail with the word "CADAVER" written in block letters on one side.

On the other was an address, the home of Susan Berman where police found the body of the 55-year-old friend, confidante and former employee of Robert Durst, the eccentric heir to a massive real estate fortune. Berman had been shot at point-blank range in the back of the head.

Australian officials announced on Friday there are no longer any active bush or grass fires in New South Wales, the state hardest-hit by massive wildfires that have scorched millions of acres in the country since July.

Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court in California on Friday briefly blocked the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" program, seemingly dealing a blow to the president's controversial policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their day in U.S. immigration court.

But within hours, a three-judge panel voted unanimously to suspend its own order, giving the government until the end of Monday to respond with written arguments and plaintiffs until the end of Tuesday.

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET

Hours after the White House rejected the idea of appointing a coronavirus czar, President Trump on Wednesday put Vice President Pence in charge of the administration's response to the disease.

"We're doing really well, and Mike is going to be in charge," Trump said, noting that Pence's experience as governor of Indiana made him adept at working with state and local health authorities.

"This is not a czar," the president later added.

Los Angeles County courts may soon throw out nearly 66,000 marijuana-related convictions of residents dating back more than 50 years.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has asked a judge to dismiss and seal the records of 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases as early as 1961, as well as, 3,700 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases.

Lacey, who is caught in a tight race for the district attorney seat against two progressive candidates, called it a marker of the sweeping change that can occur when government partners with technology leaders.

A Utah bill that would reduce polygamy among consenting adults from a felony to an infraction — on par with a traffic ticket — was unanimously endorsed by a state Senate committee earlier this week, despite opposition from critics who argue the law could potentially protect abusers.

The move advances Senate Bill 102 to the full chamber for a vote.

"Vigorous enforcement of the law during the mid-twentieth century did not deter the practice of plural marriage," Sen. Deidre Henderson told NPR.

The Trump administration disbanded a controversial wildlife advisory board that was criticized for promoting the benefits of international big game hunting. Now, the government is calling on courts to kill a years-long lawsuit it spawned.

"The Council will not meet or conduct any business again, it can no longer be renewed, and there [is] no plan to establish another committee with a similar mission or scope in the future," the Department of the Interior explained in a court filing Friday.

After living in the U.S. for five years, cousins Walter T. and Gaspar T. were deported to their home country of El Salvador in 2019, where they were ripped from their beds one night and beaten by police, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

"They began beating us until we arrived at the police barracks," Gaspar said in interviews.

After nearly a month on the run, Lesotho's first lady was reportedly charged on Tuesday with the murder of her husband's first wife.

Maesaiah Thabane, 42, stands accused of killing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's wife, Lipolelo, days before the his second inauguration ceremony in June 2017.

Actress Annabella Sciorra took the stand Thursday in the criminal sex crimes trial of movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

She is the first of six women expected to testify that they were raped or sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

Weinstein is charged with five counts of rape and assault against two women in New York City. Weinstein maintains all of the sexual contact was consensual.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

The sudden death of rapper Juice WRLD as he landed in Chicago last month, was caused by an accidental overdose of codeine and oxycodone, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office revealed Wednesday.

Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

Teams treated children and adults for minor injuries at four suburban Los Angeles elementary schools Tuesday after a Delta flight dumped jet fuel on the way to an emergency landing.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that his state will not accept new refugees this year, making Texas the first state to reject resettlements under a new rule from President Trump.

Trump signed an executive order in September, saying that states and municipalities must give written consent before refugees can be resettled.

Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano burst to life on Thursday in a spectacular gush of lava and clouds of ash that hurled incandescent rock about 20,000 feet into the sky.

The dramatic explosion of the active stratovolcano, a little over 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, was captured on video by Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention, CENAPRED.

Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced on Monday that some forces are being repositioned inside Iraq, not leaving the country.

Two other U.S. officials told NPR that some are going to Kuwait temporarily.

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

Harvey Weinstein was charged with four felony counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County on Monday, the same day jury selection began in the Hollywood mogul's New York trial.

Pages