Author

Kate Masters

Kate Masters

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 awards in feature writing and breaking news from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, including a best in show for her coverage of the local opioid epidemic. Most recently, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md. Contact: [email protected]

Virginia’s new school COVID-19 guidance keeps most safety decisions in the hands of local districts

By: - July 21, 2021

Masks, social distancing and screening should continue to play an outsized role in the upcoming school year, according to new safety guidelines released Wednesday by the Virginia Departments of Education and Health.  This year, though, state lawmakers have given local divisions much less leeway to go fully remote, citing growing mental health concerns among children […]

Virginia’s COVID-19 decline is officially over

By: - July 21, 2021

After six months of sharp decline, COVID-19 cases in Virginia are again on the rise, spurred by the spread of more infectious variants and a plateau in new vaccinations. With just over 53 percent of the population fully vaccinated (and more than 64 percent of adults), the case burden is still far below states like […]

New coalition calls for statewide board to control prescription drug costs

By: - July 20, 2021

A new coalition is calling on Virginia legislators to create an oversight board aimed at lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals across the commonwealth. “We have formed because the problem is clear and it is grave,” said Addison Hunter, a spokesperson for Freedom Virginia, one of several advocacy groups — including Doctors for America and Virginia […]

Amid a crisis at state mental hospitals, calls for private providers to step up

By: - July 20, 2021

As Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals struggle to navigate a long-brewing crisis in staffing and admissions, lawmakers and advocates are asking private hospitals to relieve more of the burden. For years, officials have warned that Virginia’s beleaguered psychiatric facilities were on the verge of collapse. But the system reached a tipping point earlier this month when […]

Va. birth rates have declined, but regional differences tell a more complicated story

By: - July 15, 2021

In mid-April, Virginia hospitals noted what was then a surprising trend: birth-related visits had declined by about 3.3 percent over the past year, despite early speculation that pandemic stay-at-home orders could lead to a baby boom. At the time, analysts with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association weren’t sure if the trend would bear out […]

What’s the best way to protect young Virginians from COVID-19? Experts say it’s getting more adults immunized.

By: - July 14, 2021

Late last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released sweeping new guidance for public schools, prioritizing in-person learning and making masks optional for fully vaccinated students (a recommendation that Virginia will soon adopt, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported).  The news came less than 24 hours after the state’s Department of Health announced that […]

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are closing to new admissions

By: - July 9, 2021

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are immediately closing to new admissions, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services announced Friday. The abrupt order from DBHDS Commissioner Alison Land comes amid a workforce crisis that’s resulted in a “dangerous environment where staff and patients are at increasing risk for physical harm,” she […]

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Virginians account for virtually all new COVID-19 cases since December, data shows

By: - July 8, 2021

Since late December, virtually all of Virginia’s new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been among residents who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. The statistics parallel trends in neighboring states, including Maryland, which announced that unvaccinated residents made up all of its coronavirus deaths in […]

Helicopters, cash payments and a new public health lab: How state agencies propose spending Virginia’s rescue fund money

By: , , and - July 8, 2021

Virginia has $4.3 billion in federal aid to spend and no shortage of ideas. State agencies hoping to tap into American Rescue Plan funds have submitted wish lists that top more than $18 billion, floating proposals ranging from new helicopters for Virginia State Police to $1,000 cash payments for essential workers.  Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration […]

Legislators are weighing what to do with a $1 billion surplus from Virginia’s college savings program

By: - July 7, 2021

A Virginia college savings program has accumulated more than $1 billion in surplus revenue — money that could potentially be reinvested in financial aid and other higher education initiatives. Lawmakers directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, a state watchdog agency, to study the possibility after reviewing a regularly scheduled audit of a now-discontinued […]

Boosted by expansion, Medicaid enrollment soared to more than half a million Virginians during the pandemic

By: - July 6, 2021

For years, Debbie Oswalt collected stories of Virginians who died before they could access the right medical care.  As executive director of the Virginia Health Care Foundation, which funds the state’s network of free clinics and community health centers, she knew firsthand how limited access could be for patients without insurance. One of her worst […]

Virginia will expand mental health coverage under Medicaid

By: - July 2, 2021

For years, mental health treatment for many Virginians has followed a predictable pattern, said Anna Mendez, executive director of the Charlottesville-based nonprofit Partner for Mental Health.  “For community providers like us, a family member will call and say their loved one is in crisis,” Mendez said. “And we can tell that they’re in distress, but […]