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.

Hopes for COVID-19 workers’ comp expansion ends in Senate committee

By: - September 24, 2020

A Virginia Senate committee swiftly killed a bill that would extend COVID-19-related workers’ compensation to first responders, teachers and health care providers. The Thursday vote ended any chance of expanding coverage during the ongoing special session — now in its fifth week — and marked another blow for House Democratic leadership, who announced the legislation […]

State delegate joins business owners in lawsuit challenging Virginia’s virus workplace safety regulations

By: - September 22, 2020

A state delegate joined the Virginia Manufacturers Association and other business owners to challenge emergency COVID-19 safety regulations adopted by the state’s Safety and Health Codes Board in July. In a Sept. 15 filing with the Richmond Circuit Court, Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, argued that he has been “uniquely harmed” by executive actions taken by […]

Child welfare calls have plummeted during the pandemic. Advocates worry the numbers don’t tell the full story.

By: - September 22, 2020

Beginning in April, child welfare calls from Virginia schools — usually the state’s top reporter for cases of suspected abuse or neglect — dropped by about 98 percent. The Virginia Department of Social Services traced the sudden decline to statewide school closures in late March, which limited face-to-face interactions between students and teachers. Since then, […]

Virginia’s largest insurance company cut reimbursement rates. Some doctors say primary care will suffer.

By: - September 21, 2020

One of Virginia’s largest insurance companies is lowering reimbursement rates for nurse practitioners and physician assistants amid the COVID-19 pandemic — a move that many doctors say will hurt already struggling primary care practices. Clark Barrineau, assistant vice president of government affairs for the Medical Society of Virginia, said the group began receiving calls from […]

A child died of COVID-19, health officials say — the first in Virginia

By: - September 18, 2020

The Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first death of a child in Virginia due to COVID-19, according to a Friday news release. The patient was “an adolescent resident in the Southside Health District” — which includes Boydton, Lawrenceville, and Halifax — who tested positive for the virus. VDH listed the patient’s age as between […]

Virginia public schools are seeing an early drop in enrollment. It could put millions in state funding at risk.

By: - September 18, 2020

Since the start of the school year in August, Radford City Schools have lost around 75 students compared to enrollment counts last May, according to district Superintendent Robert Graham. Across the state in Middlesex County, public schools are down roughly 47 students, said Superintendent Pete Gretz. Attendance at King William County Public Schools has dropped […]

‘The timing isn’t right for it’: Paid quarantine leave dies in Senate committee

By: - September 16, 2020

Advocates and a handful of Virginia lawmakers have been calling for paid sick days since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But any chance of guaranteeing paid quarantine leave for workers died Wednesday in a Senate committee, where legislators voted 14-1 to table a bill mandating employers to provide time off. The legislation’s sponsor, Del. […]

As schools weigh a return to in-person learning, health officials won’t release details on COVID-19 outbreaks

By: - September 16, 2020

The majority of Virginia’s local school districts started the year remotely. But as divisions across the state weigh a return to in-person learning over the next few weeks, the Virginia Department of Health is still providing limited information on COVID-19 cases linked to K-12 schools.  At a news conference Tuesday, Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver […]

The State Corporation Commission

Virginia will suspend utility shutoffs until October, SCC rules

By: - September 15, 2020

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission agreed to extend an existing moratorium on utility disconnections until Oct. 5. But regulators warned it would be the last time they granted an extension on the shutoff ban, which has already been renewed twice since the SCC first imposed it on March 16 — just a few days after Virginia’s […]

Northam requests another extension on Virginia’s utility shutoff ban

By: - September 15, 2020

With no clear end in sight to the Virginia General Assembly’s ongoing special session, Gov. Ralph Northam is again asking the State Corporation Commission to extend an existing moratorium on utility disconnections. The current ban is set to expire on Wednesday. But in a letter sent earlier this week, Northam asked SCC commissioners to extend […]

Paid quarantine leave bill passes Virginia House, heads to Senate for approval

By: - September 11, 2020

In a largely party-line vote Thursday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would mandate paid quarantine leave for many of the state’s workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation will head to the Senate for final approval and still requires the governor’s signature if passed by both chambers. But advocates described […]

Virginia Senate unanimously votes to limit emergency orders by state health commissioner

By: - September 10, 2020

The Virginia Senate unanimously voted Thursday to set limits on orders of one the state’s top health officials — a bill fueled in part by frustration over the lack of transparency on outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes throughout much of the pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration has strongly opposed the legislation — objections that […]