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.

Youngkin attends Virginia March for Life in nod to anti-abortion voters

By: - April 27, 2022

Attendees at Virginia’s fourth March for Life were joined by an unexpected participant on Wednesday — Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who announced plans to join just a day before the annual anti-abortion event. “I’m the governor and I’m pro-life, so it wasn’t a hard decision,” he told a reporter in response to one of a few […]

One of Virginia’s poorest cities is also its least healthy, new rankings show

By: - April 27, 2022

For the second year in a row, Petersburg ranked as the least healthy locality in Virginia while Falls Church took over first place. The rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, are meant to offer an annual snapshot of more than 90 measures affecting health and […]

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 […]