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.

Health officials shift to ‘sentinel surveillance’ for COVID-19 as Virginia moves to Phase 3 reopening

By: - June 26, 2020

Virginia’s third phase of reopening will come with a new way of monitoring COVID-19. The surveillance program, announced at a Thursday news conference, comes amid declining trends in coronavirus statistics and a growing sense that state leaders consider the pandemic in Virginia under control — at least for now. At the same conference, Gov. Ralph […]

Latinos shoulder a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases. Advocates want more representation in contact tracing.

By: - June 26, 2020

Roughly half the clients at Neighborhood Health, a chain of medical clinics across Northern Virginia, are Latino. Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan said the nonprofit is well aware of the health disparities that patients often face. Still, he added, it’s been “disturbing” to witness the disproportionate burden that COVID-19 has had on the Latino community. […]

Virginia will move into Phase 3 next week, Northam announces

By: - June 23, 2020

Virginia will move into the next phase of its gradual reopening plan on July 1, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday. Phase 3, which significantly lifts many of the restrictions set in place at the beginning of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic, has been eagerly anticipated since Northam outlined new guidelines last week. But the governor declined […]

Gov. Ralph Northam outlined plans Thursday to remove a state-owned statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond's Monument Avenue. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

‘Can’t explain the about-face’: Reversal on nursing home disclosures lead to bipartisan questioning

By: - June 23, 2020

Until Friday morning, even leaders in the long-term care industry had no idea the state was about to reverse course on releasing the names of nursing homes and assisted living facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks. The sudden move came after months of the Virginia Department of Health insisting that state law prevented it from doing exactly that. […]

Virginia’s COVID metrics are trending down. Here’s why the state isn’t reopening faster.

By: - June 22, 2020

Some Virginians — and Gov. Ralph Northam’s political opponents — were surprised when Northam announced the state wouldn’t be proceeding into its third phase of reopening, despite significant improvements in COVID-19 metrics since the start of Phase 2 earlier this month. If @GovernorVA is truly following the science and data, Phase 3 should start on […]

Reversing course on disclosure, Virginia officials reveal which nursing homes face outbreaks

By: - June 19, 2020

After months of resistance, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that the Virginia Department of Health would begin releasing facility-specific information on COVID-19 outbreaks within long-term care facilities. The initial data shows that a total 178 long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living centers, and campuses with multiple levels of care, have experienced outbreaks of […]

VCU research shows masks can dramatically decrease COVID-19 deaths

By: - June 18, 2020

A recent study from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University suggests that mask-wearing policies can dramatically reduce per-capita death rates from COVID-19, based on an analysis of nearly 200 different countries. The article is currently in pre-print, meaning it hasn’t gone through the peer-review process that’s considered standard for published academic articles. But Jeremy Howard — […]

State health officials are still deciding how to safely reopen nursing homes. Providers say patients are suffering.

By: - June 17, 2020

Amy Fernandez considers her grandmother, 92-year-old Dolores Wilson, lucky.  A “tough lady” from a tight-knit Italian family, Wilson has a window room at Manassas Health & Rehab Center, where her relatives still visit multiple times a week, Fernandez said. The nursing home is closed to visitors, but Wilson’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren often set up […]

Virginia colleges and universities can reopen this fall — if they have a plan

By: - June 11, 2020

Colleges and universities in Virginia have the go-ahead to admit students on campus this fall. But they’ll be expected to follow new guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and submit “comprehensive reopening plans” to the State Council for Higher Education, which must review and approve them before campuses can reopen, Gov. Ralph Northam said […]

Amid protests, school resource officers face growing scrutiny from Virginia legislators

By: - June 11, 2020

Less than a year ago, a Democratic challenger trying to unseat then-Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox was put on the defensive after he ran an attack ad claiming she called for the removal of police in schools. In 2018, months after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a bipartisan House committee called for more […]

‘We want to be there if it’s safe’: Virginia teachers still have questions about the state’s plan to reopen schools

By: - June 9, 2020

As schools in Virginia prepare to reopen, some teachers still have questions on how the state’s new guidelines will be implemented. On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that K-12 education will follow a phased reopening similar to the rest of the state, with the hope of slowly reintroducing in-person instruction for all students. “To be […]

CMS data, riddled with errors, gives little clarity on COVID-19 in Virginia’s nursing homes

By: - June 5, 2020

The data was hotly anticipated. But less than 24 hours after the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the names of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases, it became clear there were problems.  Case numbers for Virginia showed a sharp discrepancy with data from the state’s Department of Health. The dataset showed no information […]