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.

Experts expect legal battle over COVID-related workers’ compensation in Virginia

By: - September 7, 2021

Employees who experienced severe cases of COVID-19 could face an uphill battle when it comes to claiming workers’ compensation benefits. Attorneys on both sides of the cases — those representing workers and those representing employers and their insurance carriers — expect legal challenges, which they attribute to recently passed laws expanding access to workers’ compensation […]

Hampton Roads hospitals spar over impact of hospital-owned insurance plans

By: - September 2, 2021

A new report presented to state legislators this week warns against the potential drawbacks of vertically integrated health carriers — hospital systems that also own their own insurance plans. The white paper, authored by consultants for Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, is the latest effort to sway lawmakers in a long-running battle between Chesapeake and Sentara, […]

Federal inspectors issue warning after finding animal welfare violations at Virginia Tech

By: - September 1, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an official warning to Virginia Tech last week after an inspection found multiple animal welfare violations at the school’s veterinary facilities. In the most severe incident, a study “involving traumatic brain injuries” led to the death of four out of six Gottingen pigs included in the experiment. The first […]

Parents are changing their minds on in-person school. In most cases, there are no other options.

By: - August 30, 2021

It seemed like the pandemic had finally reached a turning point when Melissa Yeager made a decision about the upcoming fall semester. Families with Richmond Public Schools had until June 1 to choose between enrolling virtually or attending classes in person. At that point in the summer, COVID-19 vaccines were widely available to adults, new […]

Virginia’s breakthrough case numbers are likely an undercount

By: - August 27, 2021

Earlier this week, the Virginia Department of Health updated its public reporting on breakthrough COVID-19 cases to “more accurately represent the impact of vaccinations on infection rates in the commonwealth,” according to a release from the agency.  As the Mercury reported, the data illustrates the higher risk for infection, hospitalization and death among unvaccinated Virginians. […]

Some Virginians are trying to game the system for early COVID-19 booster shots

By: - August 27, 2021

Over the last week, Dr. Henry Ranger estimates he’s gotten hundreds of calls about COVID-19 booster shots — not only from Williamsburg, where he co-owns a pharmacy with his wife, Dr. Jade Ranger, but from Newport News, Hampton, Richmond and other cities across the state.  “We were the first pharmacy in Williamsburg to get the […]

How common are breakthrough infections in Virginia? It depends how you crunch the numbers.

By: - August 24, 2021

For the last month, the rise of the highly infectious Delta variant has prompted growing anxiety over so-called “breakthrough” infections — commonly understood as cases of COVID-19 among individuals who are fully vaccinated. In Virginia, though, it’s not easy to understand how often those cases are occurring. According to the state’s recently updated COVID-19 dashboard, […]

Virginia is part of a probe into infections caused by contaminated ultrasound gels

By: - August 23, 2021

Virginia is one of at least six states investigating bacterial infections linked to contaminated ultrasound gels, Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver announced in a clinician’s update earlier this month. So far, the Virginia Department of Health has identified a cluster of eight Burkholderia stabilis infections in the northwest region of the state, according to spokeswoman […]

Booster shots are coming. Here’s what that means for Virginia.

By: - August 19, 2021

The White House and federal health officials announced yesterday that COVID-19 boosters will likely become available to U.S. adults by Sept. 20, following a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  In Virginia, officials have already begun planning the logistics of the rollout, state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said at a news briefing […]

Most Virginia hospitals and nursing homes aren’t mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees

By: - August 18, 2021

For the third time in just over a year, Ballad Health is suspending many of its elective surgeries, citing a new surge of coronavirus cases that have left its hospitals overwhelmed. As serious infections have risen across the region, driven by low immunization rates and the aggressive Delta variant, the system’s administrators have begged more […]

Northam announces new vaccine and testing requirements for state employees

By: - August 5, 2021

Roughly 122,000 state employees will be required to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday — the latest in a line of mandates across the country aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus delta variant. Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said the policy will apply to employees and contractors […]

City of Richmond introduces first employee vaccine mandate in Virginia

By: - August 4, 2021

The City of Richmond will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its employees, Mayor Levar Stoney announced Wednesday, becoming the first locality in Virginia to implement the requirement. The mandate applies to about 3,600 public employees, including police, fire, public works, social services and parks and recreation workers. It won’t, however, extend to roughly 500 constitutional officers […]