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. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md. She was named Virginia's outstanding young journalist for 2021 by the Virginia Press Association.

Demand for mental health services outpaces expectations

By: - August 15, 2022

At the start of December, Virginia significantly expanded its mental health coverage under Medicaid, adding six new services and boosting payments for providers as part of a multi-year effort to reduce the state’s reliance on its own struggling psychiatric hospitals. Six months into the rollout, the demand for at least one treatment option already vastly […]

Virginia is seeing a spike in THC-related poison control calls among toddlers and teens

By: - August 9, 2022

The director of the University of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Poison Center said he’s seeing an increase in calls involving synthetic THC products with the same intoxicating effects as marijuana. In a Tuesday presentation to a recently formed state task force, Dr. Chris Holstege said the current spike was largely attributable to Delta-8, a lab-made cannabinoid […]

Virginia’s teacher shortage is fueling big spending on recruitment and retention

By: - August 9, 2022

Since mid-July, teacher shortages have dominated discussions among Virginia’s local school boards. In a meeting last week, Spotsylvania County Superintendent Kelly Guempel described the division’s staffing needs as “severe,” with 114 vacant teaching positions a week before the start of the school year. A few days earlier, Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid informed parents the […]

Data limitations are making it harder to detect when COVID-19 is surging in Virginia

By: - August 4, 2022

Since early July, Virginia’s COVID-19 case counts have remained relatively stable, with an average of around 3,000 new infections reported every day. But over the same time period, hospitalizations have risen, with more than 800 inpatients as of Wednesday, according to data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. The discrepancy, experts say, can be […]

Virginia’s uninsured rate dropped after Medicaid expansion, new report finds

By: - August 2, 2022

The rate of low-income Virginians without health insurance dropped more than seven percentage points since state lawmakers voted to expand Medicaid in 2018, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Virginia was one of five states, including Maine, Utah, Idaho and Nebraska, that extended Medicaid and subsequently recorded […]

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Virginia’s failure to meet its ‘bed of last resort’ law

By: - July 29, 2022

A Staunton judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against the heads of Virginia’s behavioral health agency and the state’s only public psychiatric hospital for children after the facility failed to admit a nine-year-old girl in foster care going through a mental health crisis. The suit was filed in March by the Giles County Department of Social […]

Virginia’s program to reduce police mental health transports isn’t working

By: - July 25, 2022

Since 2019, Virginia has spent millions of dollars rolling out an alternative transportation program intended to reduce the role of law enforcement in driving patients to state mental hospitals and other psychiatric facilities. Under a contract with the state, the security company Allied Universal is tasked with building capacity to eventually transport 50 percent of […]

Testing and treatment still limited as monkeypox spreads in Virginia

By: - July 20, 2022

As cases of monkeypox continue to rise in Virginia, the state’s response has been limited by a short supply of vaccines, testing and other forms of treatment, raising concerns among some advocates who worry the outbreak will only become more difficult for health officials to contain. With 47 cases as of Tuesday, Virginia is still […]

Virginia’s mental health hotline launches amid fears it won’t meet expectations

By: - July 18, 2022

On Saturday, Virginia was part of a nationwide transition to 988, a simple three-digit hotline for mental health emergencies. The new number replaced the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a longer — and harder to remember — 800 number that connected to a patchwork of local call centers across the country. The shift, which first began […]

COVID-19 cases and deaths in Virginia nursing homes rise for the second consecutive month

By: - July 14, 2022

Coronavirus cases and deaths among nursing home residents rose statewide in Virginia for the second straight month after a long period of decline.

A shortage of single-family homes is casting doubt on Virginia’s future growth

By: - July 13, 2022

A shortage of available homes in Virginia is pushing up prices and slowing sales, raising the risk of long-term affordability challenges that could slow the state’s growth. The data, presented Wednesday to lawmakers on the Virginia Housing Commission, reflect trends that are likely to have a major impact on some of the state’s biggest metropolitan […]

Virginia health officials seeing ‘unprecedented demand’ for well and septic repair program

By: - July 13, 2022

The Virginia Department of Health has already budgeted nearly half of its allocated funding for an assistance program aimed at helping low-income families repair failing wells and septic systems. Lance Gregory, director of the agency’s division of water and wastewater services, said the surge of applications reflects the degree of need across the state, which […]