Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

The head of a powerful national teachers union told members Tuesday that its leadership would support "safety strikes" if health precautions are not met amid calls for schools to reopen as coronavirus cases surge.

Randi Weingarten, who leads the American Federation of Teachers, is leaving the final decision to local unions on whether to strike. The AFT — the nation's second-largest teachers union, with 1.7 million members — also unveiled several benchmarks that it said should be met before schools can fully welcome back students and staff.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will require visitors coming from other states with significant coronavirus cases to quarantine for a two-week period upon arrival.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the travel advisory would go into effect midnight Thursday. He was joined by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy at a midday press briefing.

As the federal government, public health experts and scientists push toward a coronavirus vaccine, a new survey suggests only about half of Americans say they will get one when it becomes available.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 49% of Americans overall say they plan to get a vaccination, while 31% of respondents say they are unsure if they will get vaccinated. The survey found 20% of respondents flat out said they will not.

There's a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.

Restaurants across Tennessee are able to welcome dine-in customers Monday for the first time in nearly a month as the state eases restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The step toward some semblance of normalcy comes a day after the state reported its highest single-day jump in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 478, which officials say represents a 5.2% increase from the previous day.

The NFL draft starts Thursday night, giving most sports fans their first glimpse of live action, sort of, in more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

No glitzy affair in Las Vegas as originally planned.

But the 2020 draft will be historic — just without fans in attendance cheering or booing their beloved team's picks. No newly-minted NFL player holding up a jersey of the team that just selected them. No draftees shaking hands with Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is defending his decision to secure half a million coronavirus test kits from South Korea instead of waiting for assistance from the federal government.

The decision to lean on a foreign government has drawn a rebuke from President Trump, who said of Hogan, "I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful."

For days, Hogan, a Republican, has expressed frustration with the Trump administration over his state's struggle to obtain more testing equipment.

Updated at 10:31 p.m. ET

Citing President Trump's guidelines for Opening Up America Again, released last week, Gov. Brian Kemp announced at a news conference Monday steps to reopen Georgia's economy, starting this Friday.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a nationwide state of emergency, expanding the one put in place less than two weeks ago that covered Tokyo and six other prefectures as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread.

The prime minister also announced plans to give stimulus funds of 100,000 yen, the equivalent of about $930, to each of Japan's 120 million citizens to lessen the economic hardship of the faltering Japanese economy.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said he sees a "light at the end of this tunnel" in an interview Tuesday. At the same time, he said he still believes the nation will suffer high numbers of coronavirus-related deaths this week.

New York state had it deadliest day yet stemming from the coronavirus, with more than 500 fatalities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The death toll has gone up from 2,373 to 2,935 in the last 24 hours, Cuomo told reporters during a late morning press conference. He described it as the "highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started."

A Seattle-area nursing home connected to more than two dozen coronavirus deaths is facing more than $600,000 in fines and the possibility of losing federal funding after officials documented a series of flaws in the facility's handling of the outbreak.

The federal government set a September deadline for the Life Care Centers of Kirkland to comply with federal regulations.

Plácido Domingo has been hospitalized because of COVID-19-related complications, according to multiple reports.

He is in stable condition in an Acapulco, Mexico, hospital and will receive medical attention for "as long as the doctors find it necessary until a hoped-for full recovery," a spokesperson for Domingo told Opera News over the weekend.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the state's first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 60s, and also confirmed a 5-year-old girl has COVID-19, making her the youngest known person in the state to contract the disease.

Hogan said there are a total of 107 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, adding it was an "88% increase in the last 48 hours."

"Unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis," Hogan said at a press conference outside the state capitol in Annapolis.

When San Francisco announced its "shelter in place" order this week, it said only "essential businesses" could remain open to support the public's needs, such as grocery stores and gas stations. Missing from that list were marijuana dispensaries.

But a day after residents were told to stay home, the city revised its position and deemed cannabis "an essential medicine," allowing stores to open.

Updated 4:45 p.m. ET

Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer and President Charles Scharf told lawmakers Tuesday that the scandal-plagued bank he now leads "had a flawed business model" and a structure and culture that "were problematic."

He said that while he is confident that reform plans he's implementing will work, such efforts will likely continue until at least 2021.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Fourteen U.S. passengers evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan and flown to military bases in California and Texas have tested positive for the new coronavirus, U.S. officials confirm.

Earlier, on Sunday, U.S. officials announced that 44 people from the Diamond Princess ship had tested positive for coronavirus. Those who were sick were to remain in Japan to be treated.

Smoke from massive wildfires in Australia hangs like a blanket over the city of Melbourne. The smog there is so thick that some of the world's top athletes have raised alarms about player safety at the Australian Open tennis tournament, slated to kick off next week.

The air quality in Melbourne on Wednesday was forecast to be "very poor to hazardous," according to the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria state.

A Virginia doctor received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday for illegally prescribing more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers operated a "pill mill" out of Martinsville, Va., located about 15 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border and about 175 miles southwest of Richmond.

Major broadcast companies including CBS, Viacom, and WarnerMedia say they are pulling ads by e-cigarette makers, as concerns over growing teen use of the products and the hundreds of cases of illnesses linked to vaping continue to mount.

Three people turned themselves in to police Monday to face criminal charges in connection with the deaths of a dozen patients at a South Florida rehabilitation facility days after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

A fourth person was arrested by authorities in Miami-Dade County.

Those charged all worked at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills when the storm knocked out a transformer that supplied power to the facility's air conditioning system.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have launched a free online gun violence prevention course.
Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

Updated at 6:15 p.m. EST

Flanked by Democratic and Republican lawmakers, President Trump Thursday signed into the law the 2018 farm bill touting it as a "bipartisan success," even though it lacked the administration's much-sought-after changes to the food stamp program.

"We're here to celebrate a really tremendous victory for the American farmer," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "We've been working long and hard on this one."

The Trump administration Wednesday unveiled a multi-agency plan to reduce the number of children exposed to lead in drinking water, consumer products and dust generated from old lead-based paint in homes, schools and soil.

Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET

Trump Administration officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are pushing back on a report saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mandate to no longer use words and phrases including "fetus," "transgender" and "science-based."

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to West Virginia Saturday where he met with small business owners before delivering public remarks, which included some lines about repealing Barack Obama's health care law, a day after Republicans efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act went down in flames.

"West Virginia and President Trump, we all know the truth about this failed law, that every day Obamacare survives is another day that America suffers," Pence told a crowd gathered at a Charleston construction supply company.

In an effort to move beyond recent controversy, Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it will no longer accept reimbursement for any fetal tissue it provides to medical researchers.

The organization has been the subject of negative attention in recent weeks following the release of highly edited, undercover videos recorded by an anti-abortion group alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from its fetal tissue donation program.

With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Jerry Brown made it legal for physicians in the state to prescribe lethal doses of medications if their terminally ill patients wish to end their lives.

Brown signed the "End of Life Act" into law on Monday, and in doing so California joins four other states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana — where patients' right to choose doctor-assisted death is protected either by law or court order.