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.

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 […]

Congress clears giant $1.9T emergency relief package for Biden’s signature

By: - March 10, 2021

WASHINGTON — A sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk after the U.S. House passed the latest pandemic relief measure Wednesday on a party-line vote. The massive bill includes a new round of $1,400 direct checks for many Americans, as well as an extension of expanded unemployment checks to assist […]

U.S. Senate imposes limits on aid for state, local governments in COVID relief bill

By: - March 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, after drafting a number of revisions that, among other changes, tweak the aid intended for state and local governments. The legislation approved in the House outlines $350 billion in direct aid to state, local governments, territories and […]

Senate panel advances Deb Haaland’s historic nomination to lead Interior Department

By: - March 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — Deb Haaland has moved a step closer to becoming the first Native American to serve as a federal Cabinet secretary, with a Senate committee on Thursday advancing her nomination to lead the Department of the Interior. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 11-9 to send her nomination to a vote by the […]

GOP opposition to state and local aid remains as Senate heads toward vote on COVID bill

By: - March 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — As Democrats seek to send President Joe Biden their latest $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, federal lawmakers remain deeply divided on the question of whether state and local governments need another infusion of federal aid. Supporters of the bill — including numerous Republican mayors — say the answer is a clear “yes.” They argue that a […]

Biden urges states to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers

By: - March 3, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is urging states to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccines, setting a goal of ensuring that every pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educator, school staff member and childcare worker is able to receive at least one shot this month. At least 34 states and the District of Columbia have some or all […]

Game-changing one-dose vaccine could be in states’ hands shortly

By: - February 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — States struggling to provide enough COVID-19 vaccines are likely just a few days away from a pivotal development in the vaccination race: the availability of a shot that requires only one dose. The game-changing Johnson & Johnson vaccine would differ from the two current shots by Pfizer and Moderna in several critical ways. […]

Big uptick in vaccine supplies for states expected soon

By: - February 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — Executives from five COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers told Congress Tuesday that they expect to significantly boost the number of shots delivered to states in the coming weeks. Pfizer will increase weekly shipments to more than 13 million doses by mid-March, an increase from the 4 to 5 million doses shipped weekly in early February, […]

Feds ship out COVID-19 vaccines delayed by winter storms

By: - February 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — White House officials said Monday that thawing temperatures and a weekend of around-the-clock work has begun to clear a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccines that were delayed due to last week’s devastating winter storms. On Monday, 7 million doses were set for delivery across the country, a figure that includes both delayed […]

Added COVID-19 testing on the way with $1.6 billion in federal money

By: - February 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is directing $1.6 billion to bolster COVID-19 testing nationally, including money to expand testing in schools and homeless shelters, boost supplies needed for testing and analyze results to more quickly identify new strains of the virus. Roughly $650 million of the sum would go toward creating regional coordinating centers, which […]