Author

Laura Olson

Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Virginia Mercury. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Who will get a booster shot? A Q-and-A about what the feds are saying

By: - September 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — Booster shots soon will begin rolling out to some Americans who received the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer—after a contentious and confusing federal approval process that isn’t over yet. Determining who exactly should be rolling up their sleeves for an additional dose was tricky. The Biden administration had leapfrogged federal regulatory panels in […]

Orphaned, infected, in crisis: How the pandemic is affecting kids

By: - September 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has brought heartbreaking consequences for millions of U.S. children, even as most avoided serious illness themselves, pediatric experts told Congress on Wednesday. Take, for instance, a young girl from Tennessee named Sophia, whose story was relayed by Dr. Margaret Rush, president of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University. Within […]

U.S. House Dems pass $28.6B in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, floods

By: - September 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats unveiled a short-term spending measure on Tuesday that would keep the federal government operating through Dec. 3 and provide $28.6 billion for costs related to recent natural disasters. The bill was passed by the House on a party-line vote Tuesday night, 220-211. But it faces a battle in the evenly divided Senate, […]

U.S. Supreme Court schedules Dec. 1 oral arguments in major abortion case

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1 in a case that threatens to overturn decades of abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. The upcoming case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stems from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. It has been […]

Putting on pandemic pounds: State obesity rates hit all-time highs

By: - September 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — The number of states with high obesity among residents has nearly doubled since 2018, according to new data Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 16 states that had obesity rates among adult residents of at least 35% last year, with Iowa, Ohio, Delaware and Texas on that list for […]

COVID-19 vaccines or weekly tests to be mandated for millions of U.S. workers

By: - September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — More than 80 million employees of private businesses in the U.S. will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing as part of the Biden administration’s latest strategy for combating the still-surging coronavirus pandemic. The upcoming vaccine rule for companies with at least 100 employees is one plank of an increasingly aggressive […]

Biden to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for federal employees and contractors, reports say

By: - September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with no opt-out for testing under an executive order that President Joe Biden is expected to sign Thursday, according to several news outlets. The new requirement will be rolled out as Biden gives a major address Thursday afternoon on new national strategies for combating […]

House Democrats advance budget resolution, overcoming standoff on infrastructure vote

By: - August 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday muscled through a $3.5 trillion budget framework, overcoming a standoff with a handful of centrists who had demanded the House first approve the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate. That position by 10 House Democrats — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, […]

FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot, now known as ‘Comirnaty’

By: - August 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has its first fully approved vaccine against COVID-19, with federal health officials announcing Monday the approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine. The green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to move Pfizer’s vaccine from emergency use to full approval is a milestone in the national pandemic response, and one that comes as […]

COVID-19 booster shots to roll out starting next month

By: - August 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. health officials announced a plan Wednesday to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to Americans starting Sept. 20, with the scheduling of the additional shot to be based on when a person was fully vaccinated. The new round of jabs will be extended to those who received the two-dose vaccine from either Pfizer or Moderna, and can be […]

Afghan evacuees to arrive in the U.S. through Virginia and Wisconsin military bases

By: - August 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — The first U.S. stop for the nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other refugees evacuated so far amid the collapse of the Afghan government has been central Virginia’s Fort Lee military base. Tapped for its East Coast location and its ability to quickly ramp up to serve as a temporary host installation, the Army […]

Trump allies’ lingering election ‘audits’ spark public skepticism, concerns in Congress

By: - August 6, 2021

WASHINGTON — The months-long, Republican-led investigation in Arizona into the results of last year’s presidential election has cost millions of dollars and produced no evidence yet of major issues in tallying Maricopa County ballots. Yet supporters of former President Donald Trump are still attempting to follow Arizona’s lead by pushing for so-called audits in several […]