Brakkton Booker | WAMC

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.

As states begin to lift stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the NBA says it will relax league restrictions next month, clearing the way for players to train at some team facilities.

Beginning on May 8, players will be able to train and receive treatment at team buildings — as long as it can be done safely and as long as the facility is in a jurisdiction that isn't under a shelter-in-place order, NBA officials said.

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET

Health care workers, first responders and other essential employees working on the front lines of the coronavirus fight in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were greeted with a booming "Thank You" early Tuesday afternoon.

The military's elite flight demonstration squadrons — the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds — flew in what is being called "a collaborative salute" to honor those battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Unfazed by mounting criticism from mayors in his state and President Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp forged ahead with his decision to allow businesses across the state to reopen Friday, as the confirmed coronavirus death toll in the United States passes 50,000 people.

Kemp, a Republican serving in his first term, was one of the last governors to impose a stay-at-home order for his state, which took effect on April 3.

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.

A day after the eye-popping announcement that nearly 16 million new subscribers signed up for Netflix in the first quarter of the year, the video streaming giant said it wants to take on more debt so it can acquire and produce more content.

The Olympics won't be happening this summer, and a clash between the Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee over who will shoulder the costs of postponing the games is heating up.

Competition was slated to start in July, but last month IOC and Japanese officials agreed to postpone the Summer Games until the summer of 2021 out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

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.

A large crowd of demonstrators gathered in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, honking horns, carrying signs and waving American flags near the state capitol as part of a backlash against social-distancing orders to control the spread of the coronavirus. A counterprotest drew a smaller crowd.

The coronavirus crisis could be igniting a revolution of sorts in the legal cannabis industry.

Thirty-three states across the U.S. allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana. And of those, more than 20 states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the coronavirus outbreak.

While advocates are applauding many of the interim marijuana laws, they also say those laws exposes dangerous disparities among states.

The continued spread of the coronavirus claimed yet another big event on the 2020 entertainment calendar this Friday, when the San Diego Comic-Con announced the annual entertainment and comic book convention would be postponed until 2021.

In a statement on its website, organizers said it is "with deep regret that there will be no Comic-Con in 2020," marking the first time in the event's 50-year history it would not be held.

The racehorse M C Hamster was injured during a three-furlong workout along the dirt track at Santa Anita Park this week, fracturing a front left ankle. She was later euthanized.

In a vacuum, this would be a sad event.

But given the Arcadia, Calif., racetrack's recent history, the four-year-old filly's death becomes all the more appalling.

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.

There are "good signs" in New York's battle against the coronavirus as the state's death toll is "effectively flat for two days," the governor announced Monday, while also noting the state's health care system is "at maximum capacity."

The governor also reiterated his desire to have the USNS Comfort hospital ship join the Javits Center as a frontline facility to help New York City fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

Officials at Wimbledon, the prestigious tennis tournament that is part of the sport's annual Grand Slam events, have announced it will not be held this summer. It's the latest sporting event to be sidelined because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

The All England Club announced Wednesday that the London-based tournament will now run the 134th Championships from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department now says that gun shops are essential business and can remain open during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a reversal of an effort to shutter firearms and accessories stores during the "Safer at Home" order enacted by county and state officials.

It also comes days after the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines labeling those that work in the firearms industry as essential critical infrastructure workers.

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.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that she had talked with President Trump about a "fix" to the relatively small amount of funding the city is slated to receive from the the landmark $2 trillion economic relief package.

The scale of the crisis in the city was underscored by the death of a member of Bowser's own administration Friday from COVID-19.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Monday that schools in Virginia will be closed for the foreseeable future as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

"Today I'm directing all schools in Virginia to remain closed at least through the end of this academic year," Northam said during an afternoon press conference.

Northam added that he is issuing an executive order effective at midnight Tuesday, placing additional restrictions on businesses that serve the public.

As odd as it may seem, it became reality Friday: Tom Brady is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The man who quarterbacked the New England Patriots for the past 20 seasons and brought the franchise six Super Bowl championships posted to his Instagram on Friday: "I'm starting a new football journey."

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the daily routines of millions of Americans as many settle into their new self-isolation realities.

Some are finding ways to pass the time by streaming television shows, movies and classic sports (and, of course, listening to NPR).

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.

Former Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has been sentenced to 11 months in federal prison for corruption charges stemming from the illegal misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect nearly every facet of life, including some governors moving to temporarily shutter movie theaters, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a potentially industry-altering change: It will allow customers to view new films at home through video on demand the same day as their theatrical release.

Trolls World Tour, slated to open in the U.S. on April 10, will be the first to kick off the new initiative.

A scheduled joint European-Russia launch of a planetary rover to Mars this summer has been scrubbed, for now. The European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos space agency said the ExoMars mission, planned for July, won't happen now until at least the latter part of 2022.

Updated 6:18 p.m. ET

A federal court on Thursday ordered Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who has jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, must be released.

Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in court documents it was discharging the grand jury.

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