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.

Virginia could completely lift capacity restrictions on businesses by June 15, Northam announces

By: - May 6, 2021

Virginia could put an end to all capacity and distancing restrictions by June 15, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in a Thursday news briefing. It’s the first time he’s put a firm potential date on what would be the biggest rollback of the state’s emergency orders in more than a year. The governor has been gradually […]

To reduce racial disparities in Virginia schools, advisers say more of the numbers should be public

By: - May 5, 2021

Genisus Holland was a high schooler at Maggie Walker in Richmond — one of Virginia’s competitive governor’s schools — when she and her classmates were assigned an end-of-year writing project. “You could either do a sonnet, a rap, or some other poem,” said Holland, who’s now a freshman at George Mason University. She remembers clearly […]

More Virginians are foraging for ramps. Many are poisoning themselves by picking the wrong plant.

By: - May 3, 2021

After a dreary pandemic winter, more Virginians are venturing out in search of ramps — the leafy green allium that’s become a darling of the spring dining season. Sometimes, what they’re finding is poisoning them. Dr. Chris Holstege, medical director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center at UVA Health, said he and his colleagues have […]

Vaccine wastage is rare in Virginia. But experts say it’s getting harder to avoid.

By: - May 3, 2021

Virginia providers have wasted fewer than 4,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine out of the nearly 6 million administered through late April, according to data provided to the Mercury by the state Department of Health. The figures only include wastage from settings supplied through the state’s vaccine allocation, which is managed separately from federal programs that […]

Northam amends Virginia’s mask mandate to match CDC guidance

By: - April 29, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam amended Virginia’s mask mandate to match recently issued guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The changes, announced in a Thursday press release, went into effect immediately, according to Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky. They allow fully vaccinated Virginians to “participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask,” based […]

Nearly 10 percent of Virginians haven’t returned for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

By: - April 28, 2021

Nearly 10 percent of Virginians who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine haven’t returned for their second one, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. It’s a growing concern both in Virginia and nationally. The New York Times reported Sunday that more than 5 million Americans, or nearly 8 percent of all […]

Black and low-income students are underrepresented in Virginia AP classes, report finds

By: - April 28, 2021

Black high school students in Virginia are sharply underrepresented in Advanced Placement courses even when they’re not low-income — and even when they attend advantaged, largely homogeneous schools, a new report says. The same findings don’t hold true for other student groups, and are part of a larger focus on disparities in Virginia’s public school […]

Virginia isn’t eliminating accelerated math courses. But it’s one of many states rethinking math education.

By: - April 26, 2021

A minor political furor erupted in Virginia last week — over math. It started with a Fox News story declaring that the state Department of Education was moving to eliminate all accelerated math classes before 11th grade, “effectively keeping higher-achieving students from advancing as they usually would in the school system.” Republican leaders soon joined […]

Southwest Virginia is setting a model for virtual learning — even after the COVID-19 pandemic

By: - April 26, 2021

By the time coronavirus cases began surging across Virginia for the third time in less than a year, Keith Perrigan knew his teachers needed a break. “I never dreamed last March that we would be into this April and still dealing with the pandemic,” said Perrigan, who serves as the superintendent of Bristol Public Schools. […]

Northam relaxes restrictions on gatherings, entertainment and restaurants as vaccination numbers climb

By: - April 22, 2021

Starting May 15, Virginia will significantly relax capacity restrictions on social gatherings and entertainment venues as COVID-19 numbers plateau across much of the state. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the latest rollback in a video message on Thursday, citing the state’s continued progress in vaccinations. Data from the Virginia Department of Health indicates that more than […]

Staffing shortages are overwhelming Virginia’s psychiatric hospitals

By: - April 21, 2021

Staffing shortages have left Virginia’s mental hospitals overwhelmed as the facilities continue to struggle with a surging patient population. It’s a problem that’s only grown worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alison Land, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, told state lawmakers Tuesday that low pay, burnout and growing […]

Virginia’s mass vaccination sites for vulnerable communities are faltering. Why is there still a gulf in vaccine rates?

By: - April 19, 2021

Over the last month, state and federal officials have directed thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to large-scale clinics in vulnerable communities with high rates of coronavirus cases — all in areas with significant or majority Black and Latino populations. The sites have been touted by leaders as a core strategy in expanding access to vaccines among […]