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 House will legislate the special session remotely after contentious rule changes

By: - August 19, 2020

The House of Delegates will be meeting remotely as it decides the future of legislation on state spending, pandemic protections and criminal justice reforms amid nationwide calls for racial equity and police accountability. The historic decision followed a lengthy debate between House Democrats and Republicans as they considered how to proceed with a special session […]

House Democrats promise bills mandating paid sick leave, transparency in nursing homes

By: - August 13, 2020

Paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, and transparency for nursing homes are some of the biggest pandemic priorities House Democrats say they plan to tackle during a special session of the General Assembly scheduled to begin next week. Some of the proposals, endorsed by the caucus’ 55-member majority, aim to fix issues that have emerged as […]

Galax has less than 10,000 residents. Why was it leading the state in new COVID-19 infections?

By: - August 12, 2020

GALAX — Around 30,000 people crowded downtown Galax last year during the first week of August, gathering in Felts Park for the city’s annual, internationally known Old Fiddlers’ Convention.  The same week this year, the streets of the small Southwestern Virginia city are quiet. Many of the local businesses, especially the antique shops and art […]

Virginia’s nursing homes prepare for sweeping new testing requirement

By: - August 10, 2020

The news release raised more questions than it answered. On July 22, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced “new resources” to help nursing homes combat the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Between the announcement of an additional $5 billion in funding and plans to deliver rapid antigen tests to facilities, CMS made an […]

One-day surge in reported COVID-19 cases attributed to data backlog

By: - August 7, 2020

A surge of new COVID-19 cases on Virginia’s daily dashboard was attributed to a data backlog earlier this week. The Virginia Department of Health registered 2,015 new cases on Friday — a significant increase from the state’s typical numbers, which have largely hovered between 900 and 1,300 daily reported infections since the beginning of August. […]

Northam announces plans to expand antigen testing in Virginia

By: - August 4, 2020

The state hasn’t purchased the tests yet. But on Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia was entering into a six-state agreement to explore the possibility of purchasing 500,000 rapid antigen tests for COVID-19.  In a letter of intent to the Rockefeller Foundation, a multibillion-dollar public health nonprofit that’s leading its own response to the […]

Could COVID-19 make a school nurse requirement in Virginia a reality?

By: - August 3, 2020

Legislation to mandate more nurses in Virginia’s K-12 schools has been filed — and defeated — regularly in the state’s General Assembly over the last five years. But amid a global pandemic and continuing debate over reopening schools this fall, legislators on both sides of the aisle are hoping to rally support for the measure. […]

Northam faces 15-point approval drop as governors across the country face growing pandemic fatigue

By: - July 30, 2020

A new poll from the Center for Public Policy at VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs found that approval ratings for Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have dropped 15 percentage points since a similar survey in April. Even with the decline, 61 percent of Virginians somewhat or strongly […]

Growing COVID-19 case numbers in Hampton Roads are straining contact tracing resources

By: - July 30, 2020

A surge of COVID-19 cases in the Hampton Roads region is putting a strain on the area’s contact tracing workforce, Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said during a Wednesday news briefing. “In the Virginia Beach area, for example, we’ve had to supplement the contact tracing with help from other local health districts,” he added. […]

Northam imposes new rules for Hampton Roads as virus cases mount; top federal official questions regional approach

By: - July 28, 2020

It started with a scolding — and a vow to crack down on businesses that weren’t following the state’s safety orders. Now, with cases rising throughout many parts of Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he was implementing new restrictions in Hampton Roads, a region he cited for one of the most troubling increases […]

One of Trump’s top coronavirus officials recommends stricter pandemic restrictions in Virginia

By: - July 28, 2020

Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the Trump administration’s top advisers during the coronavirus pandemic, is urging Virginia to adopt tighter safety standards as cases in the commonwealth continue to climb. Birx met with Gov. Ralph Northam and other administration officials on Tuesday, the last stop of a five-state tour including Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee […]

Correctional officers stand at the entrance to the Greensville Correctional Center on Nov. 10, 2009, near Jarratt, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Virginia Department of Corrections won’t disclose past sources of lethal execution drugs

By: - July 28, 2020

A new bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly this year aimed to add transparency to the state’s execution process by declassifying the sources of its lethal injection drugs. But the Virginia Department of Corrections recently denied a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Mercury for the names of its suppliers over the […]