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.

‘A massive cost’: Senate committee tables COVID-19 workers’ comp expansion

By: - September 10, 2020

Legislation extending COVID-19-related workers’ compensation coverage to first responders, teachers and health care workers hit a snag on Wednesday when a Virginia Senate committee delayed a vote on its version of the bill. Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, the chamber’s president pro tempore, successfully moved to “pass by” (or postpone a decision) on the legislation for […]

‘Things we cannot support’: Advocates back away from quarantine leave bill after major changes

By: - September 9, 2020

The future of quarantine leave for some of Virginia’s most vulnerable workers is uncertain after a House of Delegates committee made major changes to a bill that would have mandated it for any employee without paid time off. The original legislation, filed by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, would have required almost all employers to […]

Virginia General Assembly extends civil immunity to assisted living facilities during pandemic

By: - September 4, 2020

Legislation extending civil immunity to assisted living facilities, hospices and adult day cares during the COVID-19 pandemic passed through the Virginia General Assembly this week. Both bills passed with little discussion over objections from groups like AARP Virginia, which said, in letters to House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John […]

As virus cases mount, who’s overseeing Virginia universities?

By: - September 4, 2020

As colleges and universities across Virginia reopen their campuses to students — leading, in some cases, to surging cases of COVID-19 — many have done so with plans that weren’t vetted by the Virginia Department of Health or even, in some cases, their local health departments. Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH’s deputy commissioner for population health, […]

State commission recommends changes to how African American history is taught in Virginia schools

By: - August 31, 2020

A final report, nearly a year in the making, recommends changes to teacher training, graduation requirements and curriculum to reform how African-American history is taught in Virginia schools. The report was published Monday by the Virginia Commission on African-American History Education, which was established by Gov. Ralph Northam by executive order last August, on the […]

Virginia legislators advance protections for nursing home residents

By: - August 29, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration faced bipartisan criticism throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic for its decision not to release the names of nursing homes and assisted living centers with outbreaks of the virus — largely leaving families and residents in the dark unless the facility chose to disclose the information itself. The Virginia General Assembly […]

Virginia state lab begins antibody testing for COVID-19

By: - August 27, 2020

Virginia’s state public health lab in Richmond began antibody testing for COVID-19 on Thursday, according to a news release from the Department of General Services, the agency that oversees it. The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services has offered polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing since Feb. 29, when it first validated the COVID-19 test distributed […]

House committee votes to expand workers’ comp, mandate paid quarantine leave

By: - August 26, 2020

Virginia workers scored a preliminary victory on Wednesday when a House committee approved two bills on workers’ compensation and paid quarantine leave — both major concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Without paid time off, workers are being asked to choose between their jobs and their family’s health,” said Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, whose […]

House committee rejects legislation limiting the state’s ability to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine

By: - August 25, 2020

A Virginia House committee voted down three bills on Tuesday that would have limited the state’s ability to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. A key focus of the failed legislation was a current law allowing the state’s health commissioner to require immediate immunization during a public health emergency, regardless of religious objections. […]

Faculty question student coronavirus testing at three Virginia public universities

By: - August 21, 2020

Faculty members are raising concerns about the reliability of the tests being used to screen students at three prominent Virginia universities for COVID-19 before they return to campus. George Mason, William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University all contracted with Kallaco, a newly-formed corporation, to provide at-home testing kits and health tracking software for the […]

Senate committee advances bill to limit emergency decisions by Virginia health commissioner

By: - August 19, 2020

Over the strong objection of Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, a Senate committee advanced a bill that would curtail emergency decisions made by the state health commissioner, in part spurred on by frustration with the administration’s initial refusal to release information on nursing homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. Five of the Senate Education and Health Committee’s nine […]

Could antigen tests solve Virginia’s testing problems? Experts say it’s not so simple.

By: - August 19, 2020

Calling the current turnaround time for COVID-19 test results “unacceptable,” Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that Virginia would join a consortium of other states to pursue a mass purchase of 500,000 rapid antigen tests — a relatively new technology when it comes to diagnosing cases of the virus. The potential purchasing agreement is still […]