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.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

New York Attorney General Letitia James says a grand jury voted that no charges will be filed against Rochester police officers in connection with the March 2020 death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was in the midst of a mental health free fall during his encounter with the police.

President Biden's COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20% to 13.5 million doses this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced.

Psaki also said the supply going directly to pharmacies will double to 2 million this week.

Before taking office, Biden promised to improve and streamline Trump's Operation Warp Speed and pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses into arms in the first 100 days of his administration.

While the U.S. Senate began its second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, local lawmakers in the town of Palm Beach, Fla., also gathered to consider the former president's fate – specifically, whether to let him live full-time at his sprawling private club, Mar-a-Lago.

In a presentation at the council, John Marion, who represents Trump, argued that the former president meets the definition of a "bona fide" employee of the swanky club, and therefore can legally reside there.

President Joe Biden has picked a slate of nearly two dozen acting officials to temporarily lead agencies as he waits for Congress to confirm his Cabinet.

According to a list of officials issued by the White House on Wednesday, most of the temporary leaders are career civil servants.

Hours after hordes of pro-Trump extremists barged across what proved to be feeble and poorly guarded barricades, and at least one person was fatally shot, the general atmosphere on the streets outside the Capitol appears to be relatively quiet even as Congress is on its way to finishing what it started early Wednesday afternoon.

Police chief Robert Contee said three other fatalities — on adult female and two males — resulted from apparent "separate medical emergencies."

A team of fast-acting health care workers saved the day — and potentially hundreds of lives — on Monday after a freezer malfunction nearly destroyed 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Somewhere around 2 a.m. the compressor of the freezer holding vials of the medicine at the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County, Calif., failed, President Judson Howe told NPR.

That started a ticking clock on the shelf life of the vaccines, which can only be used for 12 hours once they're removed from refrigeration of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

President Trump has signed an executive order banning business with several leading Chinese technology companies, claiming apps run by the companies have the ability to spy on Americans, including federal employees.

Trump's order seeks to prohibit transactions with eight companies including Alipay, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma; the payment platform on the popular app WeChat; and a Chinese messaging service called QQ owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Other software apps included in the order are CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, VMate and WPS Office.

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

The Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine at Christmastime told police he did it because he believed the drug is somehow hazardous.

"He'd formed this belief they were unsafe," Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said of Steven Brandenburg on Monday during a virtual hearing, The Associated Press reported.

Updated at 2:05 a.m. ET

A Milwaukee pharmacist was arrested Thursday and accused of "tampering with and causing the destruction" of more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus last week, Grafton, Wis., police confirmed.

In a statement, Grafton Police Department officials said the pharmacist — now fired from the Advocate Aurora Health hospital system — was arrested on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.

The new highly contagious coronavirus strain from the U.K. has spread to Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday.

He made the statement during an online conversation about the pandemic with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, but Newsom offered little additional information about the circumstances of the diagnosis.

The first case of the coronavirus variant in the U.S. was detected in Colorado on Tuesday. Experts have said it spreads faster than the common strain.

The U.S. Department of Justice will not charge any of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old boy who was killed by police in Cleveland in 2014. The department has closed its investigation.

The Justice Department announced it found insufficient evidence to "support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback."

The U.S. State Department is shutting down its consulate in Vladivostok, Russia, and suspending operations at one in Yekaterinburg, officials confirmed on Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consulted with Ambassador John Sullivan before deciding to implement the changes which the department says will "optimize the work of the U.S. mission in Russia," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The move is part of U.S. "ongoing efforts to ensure the safe and secure operation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation," the official wrote.

The Minnesota Board of Pardons on Tuesday commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell, a Black man who was sentenced to life in prison as a minor.

Burrell, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, was accused of fatally shooting an 11-year old girl, who was struck by a stray bullet while doing her homework inside her family's Minneapolis home.

Following the announcement of his imminent release, Burrell held back tears.

"Thank you. Thank you very much," he said reaching a hand out to the camera.

Tony-winning legend and dance icon Ann Reinking died on Saturday, family members confirmed to news outlets on Monday. She was 71.

"The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party," her family said in a statement, as reported by Variety.

It was close but in the end, the conservative-led Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump campaign's bid to throw out more than 220,000 ballots from two Democratic county strongholds. The move, which came just shortly before Electoral College voters were due to cast their ballots, ensured President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the court's three liberal members in the 4-3 ruling, finding Trump's legal challenge to change Wisconsin's certified election results "unreasonable in the extreme" and was filed too late.

The St. Louis prosecutor spearheading the case against Mark McCloskey, one half of the husband-and-wife team accused of menacing Black Lives Matter protesters with weapons, has been removed from the case.

Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II on Thursday dismissed Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and her entire staff, saying campaign fundraising emails Gardner sent to constituents that alluded to Mark and Patricia McCloskey's case "raise the appearance of impropriety and jeopardize the defendant's right to a fair trial," The Associated Press reported.

A new kerfuffle is unfolding in a House oversight committee with the Democratic chair accusing White House appointees of political meddling and attempting to influence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strategies on the coronavirus pandemic in a manner that paints the administration in a more favorable light.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. past another dire milestone Wednesday, the highest daily death toll to date, even while the mortality rate has decreased as health experts learn more about the disease.

The Covid Tracking Project, which tracks state-level coronavirus data, reported 3,054 COVID-19 related deaths — a significant jump from the previous single-day record of 2,769 on May 7.

A federal judge has reversed the Trump administration's latest round of rules placing further limits on the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation.

Under the order filed Friday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the Department of Homeland Security to begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as soon as Monday.

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced most of the state will come under a stricter set of limitations as intensive care units reach near-capacity levels with the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Regional stay-at-home orders will likely go into effect "in the next day or two" in places with less than 15% ICU availability, Newsom explained in a daily briefing with reporters.

A controversial coronavirus adviser to the president, Dr. Scott Atlas, resigned Monday, a White House official told NPR.

Atlas, who is not an infectious disease expert and whose brief stint was marred by blunders and controversy, was tapped by the Trump administration to serve as special adviser to the president in August. Since then, "the MRI guy" has repeatedly been at odds with the nation's leading health officials regarding his views on how to combat the spread of the virus, including members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister has died of COVID-19-related complications, his party announced early Thursday.

Sadiq al-Mahdi was 84.

He died in hospital in the United Arab Emirates, where he was receiving treatment after becoming infected with the coronavirus, the National Umma Party, which he led until his death, announced Thursday.

Former Jeopardy! champion, author and know-it-all kind of guy, Ken Jennings, will be the first guest host of the long-running trivia game show, officials said Monday.

The announcement, two weeks after much-loved host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, explained that "a series of interim guest hosts from the Jeopardy! family" will take over the show, which Trebek hosted from 1984 until earlier this year.

Updated at 10:03 p.m. ET

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old gunman accused of killing protesters in Kenosha, Wis., in August, posted $2 million bail and was released from custody on Friday.

Judy Shelton's nomination as a member of the Federal Reserve Board is stalled.

The Senate failed to advance President Trump's controversial pick to the powerful central bank on Tuesday after Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine joined the Senate's Democrats in blocking Shelton's appointment.

As California's "unprecedented" coronavirus surge worsens, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he's pulling "the emergency brake" and implementing the state's most restrictive safety measures across most counties, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The shift into the "purple tier" for 41 of 58 counties comes as the number of daily new coronavirus cases doubled in the past 10 days in California, Newsom told reporters.

"We are sounding the alarm," the governor said, acknowledging the move will have a detrimental impact on businesses.

A history-making storm is gaining momentum over the middle of the Atlantic.

Monday, Subtropical Storm Theta became the 29th named storm of the year, surpassing the 28 storms of 2005 and making the 2020 hurricane season the busiest on record.

The system is not expected to make landfall in the U.S.

As of 10 p.m. ET , the National Weather Service reported Theta is moving east through the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts.

A Wisconsin court commissioner on Monday set bail at $2 million for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing protesters in Kenosha, in his first court appearance in the state after being extradited from Illinois last week.

Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting two demonstrators and injuring a third during protests on Aug. 25 that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot several times at close range by Kenosha police and is now paralyzed.

Updated Thursday at 10:55 a.m. ET

Some U.S. hospitals have been hit by coordinated ransomware attacks designed to infect systems for financial gain, federal agencies and a private-sector cybersecurity company warned on Wednesday.

A joint advisory by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI says there is "credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat" to U.S. hospitals and health care providers.

Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, has revealed himself to be "Anonymous," the author of a New York Times op-ed and book critical of the Trump presidency.

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