Author

Kate Masters

Kate Masters

An award-winning reporter, Kate grew up in Northern Virginia before moving to the Midwest, earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She spent a year covering gun violence and public health for The Trace in Boston before joining The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Md. While at the News-Post, she won first place in feature writing and breaking news from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, and Best in Show for her coverage of the local opioid epidemic. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md.

Virginia lawmakers endorse staffing requirements for nursing homes

By: - December 8, 2021

In a major shift, a Virginia legislative commission is recommending minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes, part of a push to improve the quality of care across the industry. Members of the Joint Commission on Health Care on Monday approved a proposal to base minimum staffing standards on the needs and conditions of residents living […]

The Virginia Department of Health won’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schools

By: - December 6, 2021

A petition to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for school employees and all eligible students failed this week when the Virginia Department of Health opted to take no action on the request. In a decision posted Monday, the agency stated that it lacked the “clear statutory authority” to mandate the shots for employees. Under state law, the […]

Virginia teacher shortages spiked during the pandemic. Experts are worried about what’s to come.

By: - December 6, 2021

John Reaves works as a high school English teacher in Henrico County but commutes 30 miles to work from his home in Louisa. The drive takes time away from his kids, including his young daughter, and the current school year has been tough on him. Henrico, like every division across Virginia, is back to in-person […]

Virginia health officials race to shift their sequencing strategy as omicron cases emerge

By: - December 3, 2021

For months, whenever a lab in Virginia sequences a sample of the virus that causes COVID-19, it’s almost unfailingly been linked to the delta variant.  “It’s been really hard to see anything but delta,” said Dr. Amy Mathers, director of the clinical laboratory at UVA Health. Nationally, it accounts for 99 percent of new coronavirus […]

As a staffing crisis continues, Virginia tries to overhaul its mental health response system

By: - December 1, 2021

When Alyssa Ward was tasked with overhauling Virginia’s mental health crisis system, she never imagined she’d be training hundreds of therapists live on YouTube from her guest bedroom. But when COVID-19 hit, that’s exactly what happened. The state’s push to reform its mental health coverage weathered a nearly two-year-long pandemic and weeks of uncertainty after […]

Mask use slipping across Virginia, researchers find

By: - November 23, 2021

Reported mask use in Virginia has been falling over the last several weeks, worrying public health experts as the winter holidays approach. The data on masking comes from scientists at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute and Carnegie Mellon’s Delphi Research Group, which has been tracking trends in pandemic-related behaviors and activities since March 2020. […]

In a push to reduce maternal mortality, Virginia is expanding access to doulas

By: - November 22, 2021

Kali King could sense something was wrong during her last pregnancy. She had gone into labor, but when she went into the hospital on a Sunday, her cervix wasn’t dilating. She wanted to see her OB-GYN the next day, but one of the doctors there was insistent she could wait until Thursday for a check-up. […]

Virginia will expand Medicaid coverage up to a year after pregnancy

By: - November 18, 2021

Virginia will join only a handful of states in expanding Medicaid coverage to members for a year after pregnancy, officials announced Thursday.  The extended services will start next year, but the move to augment postpartum care has been a priority for the state since 2020, when legislators passed budget language directing the Virginia Department of […]

Virginia health insurance premiums are still too high for many customers, report finds

By: - November 16, 2021

Nearly five years after changes to the Affordable Care Act, Virginia is still struggling to control the cost of premiums on the individual health insurance market. A new report presented Tuesday to the state’s Joint Commission on Health Care found that the average cost of silver plans, a mid-tier option that generally includes some out-of-pocket […]

New violations found at Va. beagle breeding center, which recorded 300 ‘unknown’ puppy deaths

By: - November 15, 2021

A controversial beagle breeding facility in Cumberland is once again the subject of state and federal scrutiny after an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture uncovered more than 300 puppy deaths attributed to “unknown causes” over a six-month period this year, with the agency faulting the facility for dangerous housing, inadequate veterinary care and […]

More than 35,000 children were vaccinated in the first week of Virginia’s pediatric rollout

By: - November 12, 2021

Among the things that Pearl Barry is excited to do once she’s fully vaccinated: hang out with friends, eat inside at restaurants and visit SkyZone, a sprawling indoor trampoline park. “I mean, obviously,” said the eight-year-old from Bon Air. “Who wouldn’t be?” She got her first dose of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine on Wednesday night, and […]

Virginia nursing homes have lost more than 9,500 employees since the start of the pandemic

By: - November 10, 2021

The day Virginia closed its schools in March of 2020, Tom Orsini knew he’d have a problem. “It was devastating,” said Orsini, president and CEO of Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk. “Because our staff, they’re the caregivers at home.” Over the next several months, more and more employees struggled to make shifts at […]