Author

Kate Masters

Kate Masters

An award-winning reporter, 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. While at the News-Post, she won first place in feature writing and breaking news from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, and Best in Show for her coverage of the local opioid epidemic. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md.

State panel urges Bristol to close its local landfill after years of odor complaints

By: - April 25, 2022

A panel of experts is urging Bristol, Virginia, to stop using its local landfill after finding nearly a dozen deficiencies linked to air pollution and foul odors at the site. Their report, released Monday by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, caps off two years of complaints from city residents about steadily worsening air quality. […]

Virginia’s rising syphilis cases are another bellwether of a strained public health system

By: - April 25, 2022

For more than two years, COVID-19 has largely monopolized the time and resources of local health departments across Virginia. But as the virus moves into an uneasy plateau, health officials are turning their attention to another infectious disease with alarming rates of growth. Since at least 2016, cases of syphilis — a sexually transmitted disease […]

Youngkin wants to further loosen hiring requirements for health district directors

By: - April 21, 2022

An amendment sought by Gov. Glenn Youngkin would significantly loosen criteria on who could lead local health departments, giving the state’s commissioner of health broad authority to appoint anyone they deemed qualified. The proposed changes to legislation passed by the General Assembly have raised eyebrows among some local health officials amid concerns over waning trust […]

Can Patrick County save its local hospital?

By: - April 18, 2022

At first, Wren Williams just wanted to study if reopening the hospital was feasible. Over the last five years, the freshman delegate from Patrick County had watched his community struggle to revive Pioneer Community Hospital, a 25-bed facility that closed suddenly in 2017 amid bankruptcy proceedings for its Mississippi-based parent company. The news was so […]

No plans for new COVID precautions in Virginia, despite uptick in cases

By: - April 13, 2022

BA.2, a more infectious subvariant of omicron, now makes up the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia — just under 70 percent, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are no plans to reinstate indoor mask mandates or earlier pandemic precautions amid a slight uptick in […]

Seven ways Youngkin is trying to make his mark on General Assembly bills

By: , and - April 12, 2022

Almost three months into his term, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed 700 bills, suggested amendments to over 100 more and vetoed 26 as Monday’s deadline passed for him to act on most of the General Assembly’s work for the year. Though the governor touted the bipartisan nature of many of the bills that had to […]

Former DeVos aide appointed Virginia’s deputy secretary of education

By: - April 11, 2022

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has appointed McKenzie Snow — a former Trump official and aide to one-time U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — as Virginia’s deputy secretary of education, the administration confirmed. Snow began the role on Monday and will join state Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera on the governor’s Cabinet, overseeing instruction in Virginia […]

suboxone package

Southwest Virginia patients struggle with access to addiction medication

By: - April 11, 2022

Marcy Rosenbaum had a problem. For years, Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems had been running successful recovery programs from its clinics in Bristol and Saltville, small communities encircled by the Appalachian Mountains. Earlier this year, the federally qualified health center announced it was expanding services to Tazewell, which — like much of Virginia’s southwestern corner […]

Galax, Va., ranked first among 300 high-poverty counties in COVID-19 death rate

By: - April 7, 2022

Galax, a small city in southwestern Virginia with less than 10,000 residents, is ranked first among 300 other high-poverty localities for its rate of COVID-19 deaths, a new report found. It’s not the first time the city has attracted attention for the high toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on its community. In the summer […]

Recreational marijuana still isn’t legal in Virginia and medical patients face access challenges

By: - April 4, 2022

While recreational marijuana is technically legal in Virginia, the path to purchasing it in stores is still a long way off. In February, Republicans in the House of Delegates killed legislation that would have allowed limited retail sales later this year. The state’s recreational market is scheduled to begin in 2024, but with a long […]

More violations found at beagle breeding facility in Cumberland

By: - April 1, 2022

A recent federal inspection report found new violations at a controversial Cumberland beagle breeding facility that’s become the subject of scrutiny among state and federal lawmakers. A March 8 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found five additional violations at the breeding center, owned by Envigo, a global biotechnology company. All were repeat violations, […]

With nowhere else to go, some Virginia foster children have been sleeping in government offices

By: - April 1, 2022

Over a six-month period last year, 163 children in Virginia spent at least one night in hotels, emergency rooms or local government offices due to a shortage of foster homes and other permanent housing, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday. In response, Youngkin’s administration is launching a task force charged with bringing government partners together to […]