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.

Accused of ‘juking stats’, Virginia says it will change the way it reports COVID-19 tests

By: - May 14, 2020

Questioned earlier this week about Virginia’s practice of sweeping still-questionable antibody tests into its total count of COVID-19 tests preformed, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration claimed it was using the same methodology as several other states. That’s not true, according to The Atlantic, which checked with the three jurisdictions the Department of Health said Virginia was […]

What percent positivity can — and can’t — tell us about Virginia’s COVID-19 epidemic

By: - May 14, 2020

As Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to gradually reopen parts of Virginia on Friday, a new health metric has emerged as a key factor in his decision-making. While the state has seen a growth in total COVID-19 cases as testing increases, Northam said he’s looking more closely at what the state is calling “percent positivity”— the […]

First responders have been given personal information on Virginia COVID-19 patients for weeks

By: - May 12, 2020

For six weeks, the Virginia Department of Health has been allowing local health districts to release the names and addresses of individuals with COVID-19 to 911 dispatch centers. The policy — first ordered by Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, according to internal emails from VDH — was introduced at a time when shortages of personal protective […]

Reopening Virginia hinges on PPE and testing. But the state won’t give details on contract to boost supplies.

By: - May 8, 2020

The redactions start on the first page, beginning with the name of the McKinsey partner who signed the contract with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. On April 21, The Virginia Mercury submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the department, asking for a copy of its $573,680 contract with McKinsey, a global consulting […]

Scant information is publicly available on the governor’s COVID-19 work groups.

By: - May 8, 2020

As Virginia’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, Gov. Ralph Northam has assembled a series of workgroups and task forces to coordinate the state’s response to specific concerns. The health equity working group first assembled on March 11, a few days after Virginia’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. In mid-April, Northam convened a long-term […]

Virginia nursing homes get supplies from FEMA as COVID-19 containment efforts shift to long-term care

By: - May 6, 2020

Nearly 300 nursing homes across Virginia are scheduled to receive a seven-day supply of personal protective equipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Facilities aren’t likely to get a heads-up before their shipment arrives, according to a presentation from the governor’s COVID-19 Long-Term Care Task Force (assembled in mid-April to address a growing number of […]

Legislators make bipartisan call for more data on COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes

By: - May 6, 2020

Members of Virginia’s General Assembly say there’s growing bipartisan frustration over the lack of public information about nursing homes with outbreaks of COVID-19. The push for more transparency comes as the state continues to battle a growing number of outbreaks at long-term care facilities, which account for a significant portion of Virginia’s known coronavirus cases […]

Northam announces plans to gradually reopen Virginia starting May 15

By: - May 4, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that Virginia will launch the first phase of its reopening plan on May 15. The announcement comes before a 14-day downward trend in new COVID-19 cases or a decline in hospitalization numbers — metrics Northam previously said the state would need to meet before loosening the business and social distancing […]

Increase in Virginia testing numbers mostly due to change in counting, health officials say

By: - May 1, 2020

Officials with the Virginia Department of Health abruptly announced Friday that they were changing their methodology for reporting the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Virginia. The announcement came after data on the state’s coronavirus surveillance page appeared to show a dramatic one-day increase in test results, from 90,843 on Thursday to 105,648 on Friday.  […]

Supply shortages and poor coordination delayed COVID-19 testing in Virginia for weeks

By: - May 1, 2020

Amid continued concern over the shortage of COVID-19 testing in Virginia, several commercial labs have expressed surprise that their capacity for running tests remains above the demand for them.  Asked Wednesday why the state of Virginia couldn’t have contracted with private labs to boost testing capacity, former Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley — recently announced […]

Failure to file death certificates electronically could be behind lag in demographic reporting on COVID-19 deaths

By: - April 29, 2020

Roughly 12 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Virginia don’t include information on a patient’s race or ethnicity — a lag in data that some are attributing to the way death certificates are filed with the state’s Office of Vital Records. Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said that some physicians still aren’t using the state’s electronic […]

Virginia pediatricians say reported decline in vaccination rates amid COVID-19 pandemic is troubling

By: - April 27, 2020

Pediatricians across Virginia are reporting a decline in vaccination rates as the COVID-19 pandemic continues — a worrying trend that many fear will lead to future outbreaks of otherwise preventable infectious diseases. A recent survey of more than 100 pediatric providers show that infant vaccination rates have decreased by 30 percent since early March, when […]