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.

Youngkin’s ‘almighty creator’ rhetoric in new diversity training offends some state employees

By: and - May 11, 2022

A new diversity training Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration enacted includes two references to a “creator,” religious language that struck several workers who saw it as inappropriate for inclusion in training material that’s mandatory for new state government employees. The Youngkin administration created the “Working Together for Virginia” video as its own attempt to comply with […]

Foster kids are getting swept up in Virginia’s mental health crisis

By: - May 9, 2022

At the beginning of April, Gov. Glenn Youngkin made a startling announcement: Over the last year, more than 150 foster children in Virginia had spent at least one night in government offices, hotel rooms or local emergency departments due to a lack of available placement options. The governor convened a task force with an immediate […]

Youngkin plans to end most remote work for state employees

By: - May 5, 2022

Gov. Glenn Younkin is ending remote work for state employees, bringing workers almost entirely back to the office by July 5. The administration formally announced the policy in a news release on Thursday evening, unveiling a new state telework policy updated “for the first time in more than a decade,” according to a statement from […]

Emerging subvariants are driving Virginia’s rise in COVID-19 cases

By: - May 4, 2022

For the first time since February, Virginia’s percent positivity — the percentage of lab-tested COVID-19 samples that come back positive — has risen above 10 percent as new infections continue to increase across the state. Experts say the uptick in cases, which mirrors nationwide trends, is driven by more infectious subvariants of the already highly […]

Virginia’s newest state office aims to close gaps in oversight over child welfare system

By: - May 3, 2022

After decades of limited oversight, a new state office is dedicated to investigating and intervening when problems emerge within Virginia’s child welfare system. The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman officially launched Wednesday, nearly a year after former Gov. Ralph Northam first appointed attorney Eric Reynolds to helm the agency. While the office was formally created […]

Youngkin denounces Supreme Court leak as Roe casts uncertainty over abortion in Virginia

By: and - May 3, 2022

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday denounced the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade as an attempt to “cause chaos and to put pressure on justices and elected officials,” while reiterating his anti-abortion stance and his belief that abortion issues should be left to states to decide. “This was […]

Self-harm is rising among children and teens in Virginia, new report finds

By: - May 2, 2022

Self-harm among children in Virginia — already rising before the COVID-19 pandemic — has continued to increase over the last two years, reinforcing concerns that the virus could exacerbate an existing mental health crisis. The data, released last week by the Virginia Department of Health, is part of a new push to highlight work by […]

Weed confusion, a Putin jab and slumlords: recapping the General Assembly’s veto session

By: , and - April 27, 2022

The Virginia General Assembly’s one-day veto session featured a secretive Democratic coup, an accusation Gov. Glenn Youngkin was using Putin-esque tactics to punish a county school board and a break until 4:20 p.m. to resolve massive confusion over marijuana laws. It was a long day for the state’s divided political leaders as they returned to […]

Youngkin attends Virginia March for Life in nod to anti-abortion voters

By: - April 27, 2022

Attendees at Virginia’s fourth March for Life were joined by an unexpected participant on Wednesday — Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who announced plans to join just a day before the annual anti-abortion event. “I’m the governor and I’m pro-life, so it wasn’t a hard decision,” he told a reporter in response to one of a few […]

One of Virginia’s poorest cities is also its least healthy, new rankings show

By: - April 27, 2022

For the second year in a row, Petersburg ranked as the least healthy locality in Virginia while Falls Church took over first place. The rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, are meant to offer an annual snapshot of more than 90 measures affecting health and […]

State panel urges Bristol to close its local landfill after years of odor complaints

By: - April 25, 2022

A panel of experts is urging Bristol, Virginia, to stop using its local landfill after finding nearly a dozen deficiencies linked to air pollution and foul odors at the site. Their report, released Monday by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, caps off two years of complaints from city residents about steadily worsening air quality. […]

Virginia’s rising syphilis cases are another bellwether of a strained public health system

By: - April 25, 2022

For more than two years, COVID-19 has largely monopolized the time and resources of local health departments across Virginia. But as the virus moves into an uneasy plateau, health officials are turning their attention to another infectious disease with alarming rates of growth. Since at least 2016, cases of syphilis — a sexually transmitted disease […]