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.

Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana among states gaining U.S. House seats

By: - April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — After months of delays, the U.S. Census Bureau on Monday gave states part of the critical data needed to redraw their U.S. House boundaries: an updated tally of how many people live within their borders, and the number of House districts that each state will have for the next decade. For six states, the long-awaited […]

Federal health regulators urge states to restart use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

By: - April 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal advisory panel on Friday recommended that states return to using the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson but also hand out updated fact sheets that will warn about the rare blood clots in women that paused the vaccine’s use. In a statement, Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, said the Virginia […]

U.S. House passes D.C. statehood bill, but votes still lacking in Senate

By: - April 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — For the second time, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure to make the District of Columbia the 51st state, sending the historic bill to the Senate on a party-line vote. “We look forward to a swift vote in the Senate on this essential legislation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), said ahead […]

Biden calls for paid time off for vaccinations as U.S. hits 200 million goal

By: - April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal and state officials now face trying to reach Americans unable or unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine, after meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million doses within his first 100 days in office. To aid in that push, Biden on Wednesday called on employers to give their workers time off […]

Pause for Johnson & Johnson vaccine extended as federal health panel wrestles with next steps

By: - April 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot will remain paused for at least a week, after a federal vaccine advisory panel said Wednesday that it had too little data on a rare but serious blood-clotting condition reported in at least six women. That means states and federally run vaccine sites will be relying […]

White House aims sales pitch for infrastructure plan at the states

By: - April 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — Virginia has 577 bridges and 2,124 miles of highways in poor condition and has suffered $10 billion in damage from extreme weather. Nearly 10 percent of Virginians live in areas that lack broadband infrastructure. Over the next 20 years, President Joe Biden’s administration says, Virginia’s drinking water infrastructure will require more than $18 […]

Quest for D.C. statehood finds new friends and foes: Other states

By: - April 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress had yet to even schedule a hearing on a measure granting statehood to the District of Columbia when a panel of state lawmakers in Arizona voted in February to take a stand against D.C’s plea to become the 51st state. From their committee room some 2,300 miles from the nation’s capital, members […]

CDC: If you’re fully vaccinated, you can travel in the U.S. without tests or quarantines

By: - April 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — Fully vaccinated individuals can travel at low risk to themselves, and do not need to get a COVID-19 test or quarantine after traveling within the U.S., federal health officials said Friday as they unveiled updated travel guidelines. The new guidelines offer the first official guidance to Americans who are at least two weeks past […]

Special report: Dozens of members of Congress are vaccinated against COVID-19, but some still hesitate

By: and - March 31, 2021

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December. Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states — making up a large swath of Congress — found at least 155 members of the U.S. House […]

Pennsylvania’s Rachel Levine confirmed as highest-ranking openly transgender federal official

By: - March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s former top health official, Dr. Rachel Levine, on Wednesday became the first openly transgender individual to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal position. The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm her as an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine […]

‘Vaccine passports’ that show you’re inoculated are on the way

By: - March 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — More than 70 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — and along with that shot, a small paper card with the CDC’s label detailing the timing and manufacturer of the dose. Those paper cards at the moment are the only proof readily available to Americans of their […]

Biden to states: Make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1

By: - March 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is directing states to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, according to a White House memo ahead of his first primetime address Thursday evening. Biden’s COVID-19 advisers are projecting that enough Americans in priority groups will be able to access the vaccine by the end of […]