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.

Gatherings capped at 10, mask mandate expanded in latest round of COVID-19 restrictions

By: - December 10, 2020

Starting Monday, gatherings in Virginia will be capped at 10 people and the state’s mask mandate will be expanded to include outdoor settings where social distancing isn’t possible. The latest round of restrictions, announced by Gov. Ralph Northam at a news briefing on Thursday, comes a day after Virginia recorded 4,398 new COVID-19 cases — […]

Even at large employers, few frontline service workers in Virginia have access to paid sick leave

By: - December 10, 2020

Only a third of workers at the largest service industry employers in Virginia have access to paid sick leave, according to a report by researchers at Harvard’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and the University of California San Francisco. Advocacy groups, who hope the finding will propel the General Assembly to pass long-debated paid […]

Surging COVID-19 cases overwhelm local contact tracing efforts

By: - December 8, 2020

As COVID-19 infections continue to surge across Virginia, the state’s Department of Health released new guidelines to prioritize contact tracing for cases most likely to fuel transmission. Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver announced the recommendations in a letter to health care providers on Monday, writing that “substantial levels” of community transmission “have forced many […]

Virginia is expected to get nearly half a million coronavirus vaccine doses later this month

By: - December 4, 2020

Nursing home residents and health care workers will be the priority for initial doses of a soon-expected and long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine. And Virginia is hoping both populations will be covered by the state’s initial allocation of vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, expected to arrive by the end of December. In a Friday news […]

Officials aren’t sure exactly what’s driving the COVID-19 surge. Experts say that makes policy more difficult.

By: - December 4, 2020

Since COVID-19 cases began to rise in late October, small gatherings were quickly pinpointed by state officials in Virginia and across the country as a significant contributor to the spread of the virus. “We need to continue to figure out why those numbers are rising,” Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference in early […]

Southwest Virginia a ‘cautionary tale’ as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise across the state

By: - December 3, 2020

Over the past few days, Virginia has reached a grim milestone: more patients hospitalized for COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. Those numbers are rising across the state with increases reported in each of Virginia’s five health regions, according to data from the state Department of Health. But nowhere is the spike […]

Virginia’s early COVID-19 vaccination plan anticipates doses will be scarce

By: - November 30, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam is hoping that all Virginians might be vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-summer. But as state leaders prepare for a largely unprecedented rollout, it’s clear that scarcity will inform at least the first few weeks of vaccine distribution. Health officials outlined the state’s coalescing approach in two meetings Tuesday, a little over a […]

Virginia’s contact tracing app could be a vital tool in fighting COVID-19 — if people would use it

By: - November 25, 2020

Jess Reingold, a web project manager who lives in Alexandria, has lots of ideas for Virginia’s COVIDWISE app, which was the first software system in the nation to alert users if they’ve had a close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. “There isn’t much to see or do in it unless you’ve tested positive,” […]

Virginia schools will have some flexibility in administering state SOLs this spring

By: - November 19, 2020

Virginia schools will have some flexibility in administering Standards of Learning tests to elementary and middle school students this spring, according to a Thursday news release from the state Department of Education. Instead of being required to take the full slate of normally state-mandated tests — designed to set minimum expectations for what students should know […]

As Virginia routes more students with disabilities to private schools, costs are soaring

By: - November 19, 2020

Virginia places more students with disabilities outside their local public schools than 37 other states — a trend that’s dramatically increased spending on specialized private schools over the past decade. The nonresidential programs — more commonly known as private day schools — have been a source of frustration for lawmakers over the past several years […]

Northam announces new COVID-19 restrictions in response to surging cases across the state

By: - November 14, 2020

As COVID-19 cases surge across Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus across the state. The guidelines, announced in a news release on Friday, cap all public and private gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, at 25 attendees — a dramatic reduction from the state’s previous 250-person limit. They […]

Virginia education leaders: COVID-19 has made school staffing shortages worse

By: - November 13, 2020

Virginia’s school staff shortage is getting worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, and leaders with the state Department of Education urged lawmakers to keep that in mind as they prepare for their upcoming General Assembly session. “We’ve had a teacher shortage all along, but over the past few years, even before the pandemic, we’ve seen growing […]