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.

In Virginia’s Confederate statue debate, change came slowly — then all at once

By: , , and - June 5, 2020

During a history discussion at a book festival in Charlottesville eight years ago, a local official floated an idea that, at the time, seemed shocking. After a speech by historian Edward Ayers, then-City Councilor Kristin Szakos asked if it was time to start talking about removing Confederate statues or balancing out the message they represent. […]

Reopening Virginia’s nursing homes could hinge on sweeping new testing requirements. No one’s sure who’s picking up the tab.

By: - June 4, 2020

The key to reopening Virginia’s 287 nursing homes lies in dramatically expanded testing for residents and staff, based on recent recommendations from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  The lingering question is who’s on the hook for the cost. In the roughly two weeks since CMS released its guidelines on May 18, the Virginia […]

Northam’s Phase Two reopening largely overshadowed by protests and continued civil unrest

By: - June 2, 2020

With the exception of Richmond and the Northern Virginia region, most of Virginia will move into Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced at a news briefing on Tuesday. The relaxed restrictions — normally a marquee announcement for the administration as Virginia continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 […]

Hospital testing sheds some light on extent of asymptomatic COVID-19 in Virginia

By: - June 1, 2020

In the weeks since Virginia’s hospitals have reopened for non-life-threatening procedures, many have implemented wider COVID-19 testing protocols to protect patients and staff from the virus. In some cases, the results have been illuminating. In a Thursday call with the Virginia Nurses Association, Melody Dickerson, the senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Virginia […]

Protests over George Floyd’s death spread to Virginia

By: and - May 30, 2020

Protesters in Richmond and Hampton Roads blocked highways and started fires Friday night as unrest that has gripped the country following the death of George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minnesota spread to Virginia. In Richmond, at least one car, a Dumpster and a GRTC Pulse bus were set afire. Protests continued in […]

Virginia Department of Health won’t be conducting inspections to enforce new mask order

By: - May 28, 2020

The Virginia Department of Health won’t be inspecting or monitoring businesses for compliance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent mask order, according to spokeswoman Maria Reppas, who shared additional details of the agency’s enforcement plan with the Mercury on Thursday. “VDH expects the public to voluntarily comply with the provisions of the order,” Reppas added in […]

Virginians now required to wear masks, but enforcement of the new mandate remains unclear

By: - May 26, 2020

The consequences of disobeying Virginia’s new mask requirement? That’s a question for later, according to Gov. Ralph Northam, who announced the new executive order on Tuesday with few specifics on how it would be enforced.  “It gets into a lot of the legalities of this and can get complicated in a hurry,” he said in […]

Failed partnership with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard illustrates Virginia’s early troubles in sourcing PPE

By: - May 26, 2020

At first, it seemed like a promising lead. In late March, the Virginia Department of Health — a key player in the state’s unified command team responding to the COVID-19 pandemic — reached out to the U.S. Navy, which operates its largest base in Norfolk. Bob Mauskapf, the director of VDH’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, […]

Virginia Department of Health names hospitals that received an experimental COVID-19 drug

By: - May 20, 2020

After an initial delay, the Virginia Department of Health on Tuesday released the names of 55 hospitals to receive a share of remdesivir — currently the only drug with proven, though moderate, effects against severe cases of COVID-19. As the Mercury reported last week, Virginia was one of several states to receive a shipment of […]

Some Virginia nursing homes are still struggling to source basic supplies

By: - May 19, 2020

At a news conference on Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam called nursing homes, which have accounted for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, a “top priority,” adding that his administration is doing “everything we can” to take care of them, including the provision of personal protective equipment. “If they need more PPE, we have […]

As Virginia slowly reopens, several key public health metrics still haven’t been met

By: - May 18, 2020

Plenty has changed in the two weeks since Gov. Ralph Northam announced his plans to gradually reopen Virginia starting Friday. What Northam first described as a widespread reopening with possible regional exceptions (most notably, in Northern Virginia) has become a more piecemeal approach after the governor granted last-minute exemptions to the city of Richmond and […]

Virginia’s share of an experimental COVID-19 drug can treat 36 patients. Health officials still haven’t revealed where it’s going.

By: - May 15, 2020

Virginia’s most recent allocation of remdesivir, currently the only drug with proven effects against COVID-19, is enough to treat roughly 36 people — about 3.5 percent of all hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of the disease.  The Virginia Department of Health received 10 cases of the drug on Monday, part of a larger shipment distributed […]