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.

Some Virginia’s health districts are seeing a surge in COVID-19, sounding the alarm for public health experts

By: - July 27, 2020

Data from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute show that roughly a third of the commonwealth’s health districts are showing “sustained growth” in COVID-19 cases — what computational epidemiologist Bryan Lewis said could be described as a surge. “What it basically means is over the past couple of weeks, there has been a very steep […]

Virginia’s largest school insurer says worker’s compensation is unlikely for teachers who catch COVID-19

By: - July 23, 2020

Virginia’s largest insurer for local school divisions had a clear message for administrators on Monday: Don’t worry about COVID-related worker’s compensation claims from school employees. “The burden of proof to determine that’s where you contracted the disease is going to be tough to do,” said Lee Brannon, the senior school specialist for VACORP, during an […]

Some in Virginia’s wedding industry are saying ‘I don’t’ to pandemic safety guidelines

By: - July 22, 2020

About a week and a half ago, Susan Hartle came down with deep fatigue and a dry cough. A COVID-19 test confirmed the worst for the wedding planner, who coordinates events in North Carolina and Virginia.  “To catch it really is shocking to me,” she said. She’s been vigilant about wearing a mask, mostly stayed […]

Nearly 40 percent of Virginia’s child care centers closed during the pandemic. It’s a problem for parents going back to work.

By: - July 17, 2020

Laura Efford, a preschool teacher in Albemarle County, is anxiously awaiting September, when her Bright Stars classroom (an early childhood education program based in some local elementary schools) is scheduled to reopen. “A lot of what we do in preschool is learning through play,” she said. “Building with blocks and all that stuff.” But she’s […]

State officials are urging Virginians to avoid transmission risks. But details on COVID-19 outbreaks remain sparse.

By: - July 15, 2020

Virginians took a scolding on Tuesday as Gov. Ralph Northam linked rising COVID-19 caseloads, particularly in the Hampton Roads region, with a failure to obey the state’s mask order and other social distancing guidelines. “They’re occurring when people are gathering, especially in areas around a bar,” Northam said at a press briefing where he announced […]

Citing noncompliance, Northam steps up enforcement of state’s mask order

By: - July 14, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is blaming the state’s recent rise in COVID-19 cases on noncompliance with his May mask order.  At a Tuesday news briefing — his first in three weeks — Northam announced that the state would be stepping up enforcement as a result, especially in the Hampton Roads region, where the number of […]

State officials says special education is a ‘core priority.’ Parents and advocates beg to differ.

By: - July 14, 2020

Cheryl Poe has spent more than a decade as an advocate for students with disabilities in Virginia. She said she immediately identified with a recent report from the federal Department of Education, which found systemic problems with how the Virginia Department of Education oversees special education. But when she read the state’s response — a […]

Primary care doctors in Virginia want more resources from state as demand for testing grows

By: - July 9, 2020

Dr. Sterling Ransone is a family physician in Deltaville and current member of Virginia’s testing task force, a workgroup assembled in late April to boost the state’s once-sluggish COVID-19 test rates. Twice now, in teleconferences, he’s heard what he described as “proclamations” from state officials on the number of days Virginia has gone without reported […]

Virginia still allows hospitals to move some patients to nursing homes without COVID-19 testing, despite pleas from providers

By: - July 7, 2020

Within a week after Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico reopened its doors to new admissions, the nursing home accepted a handful of what medical director Dr. Jim Wright referred to as “unknowns” — residents who had been transferred from the hospital without being tested for COVID-19. The facility, which had just weathered one […]

Health officials have fielded more than 3,000 complaints related to Virginia’s mask order

By: - July 2, 2020

A little more than a month after Gov. Ralph Northam implemented a statewide mask mandate, the Virginia Department of Health has fielded more than 3,000 complaints related to the order. Follow-up, though, has been almost universally limited to “outreach and assistance,” according to VDH and more than a dozen local health districts that fall under […]

Virginia sees historic Medicaid enrollment during COVID-19 pandemic

By: - June 30, 2020

Virginia’s Medicaid enrollment has increased by 55,000 more people than anticipated since a March 12 declaration of emergency at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid climb in enrollment numbers comes with questions about how the state will shoulder the costs if federal aid ends before Virginia’s economy fully recovers from the weight of […]

Federal report faults Virginia Department of Education over special education oversight

By: - June 29, 2020

A new federal report finds systemic failures in how the Virginia Department of Education monitors and responds to special education complaints against local school districts. VDOE is contesting several findings in the June 23 letter, sent to Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane by the U.S. Department of Education after a two-day site visit […]