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.

Virginia is preparing for an unprecedented vaccination campaign. Here’s the state’s plan.

By: - October 9, 2020

Three million dollars for public outreach. Nearly $2.5 million for refrigerators and thermometers. And more than $71 million for mass vaccination clinics, where hundreds of thousands of Virginians could be immunized against COVID-19. Virginia’s plan, released to the Mercury Friday, shows the size and scale of a public health campaign designed to protect millions against […]

From infants to centenarians: New hospital data sheds more light on serious COVID-19 cases in Virginia

By: - October 8, 2020

From January to June this year, Virginia’s oldest hospitalized COVID-19 patient was 103. But there were also 46 coronavirus hospitalizations among children younger than five out of a total of 22,508, according to new data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — including infants under the age of one. With the exception of a […]

Looming deadline for CARES Act money sparks debate between Northam and General Assembly

By: - October 8, 2020

How Virginia spends remaining coronavirus relief funds provided through the federal CARES Act has become a point of contention between Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly — now in the final stretch of finalizing a two-year budget plan amid a special session that’s lasted for nearly two months. Looming in the minds of many […]

Years of understaffing have taken a toll on how Virginia oversees struggling local school divisions

By: - October 7, 2020

Staffing at the Virginia Department of Education is significantly lower than surrounding states in several key offices — and it’s taking a toll on the agency’s ability to help local school districts, including making sure that struggling systems meet state standards.  It’s an issue that hasn’t gotten much traction since a watchdog agency, the Joint […]

In Virginia’s budget debate, an unexpected focus on the birds and the bees

By: - October 5, 2020

If state legislators didn’t already know about the birds and the bees, by the end of last week, they definitely knew about the BrdsNBz — a national sexual health textline rolled out in Virginia last year. The program became an unexpected highlight of the General Assembly’s budget discussions after Republicans in the House and Senate […]

Want a facial in Virginia? A mask is still required — and estheticians are on the front lines of fighting the policy.

By: - October 2, 2020

As the Virginia General Assembly moves into the final stretches of a special session that’s lasted for more than six weeks, House and Senate lawmakers will meet to reconcile two different budget plans that, in some cases, propose significantly different funding for legislative priorities including police reform and child care.  Buried amid the amendments, there’s […]

Animal rights activists question Virginia Tech’s dog purchases

By: - October 1, 2020

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on Virginia Tech to stop purchasing beagles from Envigo, a controversial dog breeding facility in Cumberland that’s been the subject of recent legislative debate.  It’s the second time PETA has gone after Tech and other state universities in recent weeks. In mid-September, the animal rights organization […]

Virginia colleges and universities see drop in enrollment, but far less than initially anticipated

By: - September 30, 2020

Early head counts from Virginia’s colleges and universities show an overall 1.3 percent decline in student enrollment this fall — a total of 6,658 students, according to a new report from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Spokeswoman Laura Osberger said it was the first time that SCHEV publicly announced the preliminary estimates, […]

New state dashboard aims to illustrate the regional spread of COVID-19

By: - September 28, 2020

As schools begin to reopen for in-person instruction and the state gradually relaxes COVID-19 restrictions, the Virginia Department of Health is launching a new dashboard it says will help guide decision-making by local governments.  The pandemic metrics data aims to assess the burden of disease by displaying eight different statistics commonly used to evaluate how […]

Child care providers are still closed and Virginia’s labor force is declining. What happens if parents can’t go back to work?

By: - September 28, 2020

Until the pandemic hit, Cate Garstang said her life was going pretty normally. She gave birth to her son, Andy, in May 2019 and was back to work as an office assistant in Richmond by the end of July. For the next several months, Andy was in daycare while Garstang and her husband worked.  Then […]

Virginia lawmakers weigh a $500 bonus for cops, expanded eviction protections and a lifeline for struggling schools

By: , and - September 26, 2020

House and Senate budget writers presented their proposed amendments to Gov. Ralph Northam’s retooled spending plan Friday. Here’s a first look at where the two chambers landed on funding for schools, criminal justice reform, evictions and past-due utility bills. The legislation is on its way to the floor of each chamber for an initial vote […]

Northams test positive for COVID-19

By: - September 25, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Friday morning news release. On Wednesday, they were “notified that a member of the governor’s official residence staff, who works closely within the couple’s living quarters, had developed symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” the release read. Both the […]