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 patients will soon have access to at-home abortion medication

By: - September 20, 2021

Starting in October, Virginia patients will be able to access at-home abortion medication through telehealth visits. Both Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, which operate six clinics across the state, announced they’ll begin offering abortion medication through the mail after a virtual consultation with a provider. The service will be […]

Virginia pediatricians put out ‘call for help’ amid surging demand for care

By: - September 18, 2021

Over the last week, health systems and emergency physicians across Virginia have sounded the alarm over a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations threatening to overwhelm many emergency rooms. But the rise of the delta variant, coupled with the start of the new school year, is also creating chaos for pediatricians, who are struggling to treat an […]

The demand for COVID-19 testing is surging — another challenge for overworked hospitals

By: - September 16, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to circulate across Virginia, health officials are still grappling with the downstream effects — including a ballooning demand for testing. In some cases, it’s created additional challenges for already overwhelmed hospitals. Last week, the Virginia Department of Health announced it would add another 170 testing events across the state this month “to […]

The COVID-19 surge is overwhelming emergency rooms across Virginia

By: - September 13, 2021

Over the last few weeks, hospital systems across Virginia have been sounding alarms over the latest coronavirus surge, largely driven by the highly infectious delta variant.  In Southwest Virginia, Ballad Health is facing its “worst-case scenario” with more than 700 COVID-19 patients. In Northern Virginia, hospitals already nearing capacity with COVID-19 cases have been overwhelmed […]

Most Virginia students are returning to school without COVID-19 testing programs in place

By: - September 10, 2021

As students return to school amid an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases, testing has been touted as a key tool to reduce potential spread. Both the Virginia Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “strongly recommend” testing in schools, describing it as an “important mitigation strategy.” On Thursday, President Joe Biden […]

Experts expect legal battle over COVID-related workers’ compensation in Virginia

By: - September 7, 2021

Employees who experienced severe cases of COVID-19 could face an uphill battle when it comes to claiming workers’ compensation benefits. Attorneys on both sides of the cases — those representing workers and those representing employers and their insurance carriers — expect legal challenges, which they attribute to recently passed laws expanding access to workers’ compensation […]

Hampton Roads hospitals spar over impact of hospital-owned insurance plans

By: - September 2, 2021

A new report presented to state legislators this week warns against the potential drawbacks of vertically integrated health carriers — hospital systems that also own their own insurance plans. The white paper, authored by consultants for Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, is the latest effort to sway lawmakers in a long-running battle between Chesapeake and Sentara, […]

Federal inspectors issue warning after finding animal welfare violations at Virginia Tech

By: - September 1, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an official warning to Virginia Tech last week after an inspection found multiple animal welfare violations at the school’s veterinary facilities. In the most severe incident, a study “involving traumatic brain injuries” led to the death of four out of six Gottingen pigs included in the experiment. The first […]

Parents are changing their minds on in-person school. In most cases, there are no other options.

By: - August 30, 2021

It seemed like the pandemic had finally reached a turning point when Melissa Yeager made a decision about the upcoming fall semester. Families with Richmond Public Schools had until June 1 to choose between enrolling virtually or attending classes in person. At that point in the summer, COVID-19 vaccines were widely available to adults, new […]

Virginia’s breakthrough case numbers are likely an undercount

By: - August 27, 2021

Earlier this week, the Virginia Department of Health updated its public reporting on breakthrough COVID-19 cases to “more accurately represent the impact of vaccinations on infection rates in the commonwealth,” according to a release from the agency.  As the Mercury reported, the data illustrates the higher risk for infection, hospitalization and death among unvaccinated Virginians. […]

Some Virginians are trying to game the system for early COVID-19 booster shots

By: - August 27, 2021

Over the last week, Dr. Henry Ranger estimates he’s gotten hundreds of calls about COVID-19 booster shots — not only from Williamsburg, where he co-owns a pharmacy with his wife, Dr. Jade Ranger, but from Newport News, Hampton, Richmond and other cities across the state.  “We were the first pharmacy in Williamsburg to get the […]

How common are breakthrough infections in Virginia? It depends how you crunch the numbers.

By: - August 24, 2021

For the last month, the rise of the highly infectious Delta variant has prompted growing anxiety over so-called “breakthrough” infections — commonly understood as cases of COVID-19 among individuals who are fully vaccinated. In Virginia, though, it’s not easy to understand how often those cases are occurring. According to the state’s recently updated COVID-19 dashboard, […]