Katie O'Connor

Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.

Virginia Mercury

Looking toward 2020, Virginia lawmakers double down on foster care reform

By: - May 6, 2019

In the wake of the General Assembly’s push to reform Virginia’s foster care system this year, legislators seem poised to maintain the momentum into future sessions. Virginia’s Commission on Youth held a foster care seminar for legislators on Monday, with presenters covering everything from how the current system works to what foster parents and youth […]

Governor vetoes bill that would treat drug overdose deaths as felony murder

By: - May 2, 2019

Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have made it a felony homicide to sell, distribute, manufacture or gift drugs that cause a fatal overdose. The legislation was condemned by some groups who argued it would penalize those struggling with addiction for giving or selling drugs to a fellow user and could […]

In wake of foster care revelations, watchdog agency turning to child protective services, where similar questions loom

By: - April 30, 2019

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s searing December report on foster care in Virginia launched a reform effort that has so far funneled millions of dollars toward the system. But foster care was just the most recent area within social services that the watchdog agency scrutinized. In 2020, it is due to analyze child […]

Virginia Mercury

‘We’re cautiously optimistic:’ Drug data shows a dip in opioid deaths, but meth fatalities skyrocket

By: - April 30, 2019

For the first time since 2012, the number of fatal drug overdoses in Virginia fell last year, according to the Fatal Drug Overdose Quarterly Report, which shows 17 fewer opioid deaths and a spike in methamphetamine and cocaine fatalities, due largely to the deadliness of fentanyl. The report, compiled by Virginia’s Office of the Chief […]

Northern Virginia, D.C-area get poor marks in air-quality report, though state also boasts some of the ‘cleanest cities’

By: - April 25, 2019

A new report by the American Lung Association found that more cities across the country had high days of ozone and short-term particle pollution between 2015 and 2017 compared to 2014-16, and that Northern Virginia’s struggles with air pollutants have continued. In its 20th annual State of the Air report, the association gave municipalities grades […]

National hepatitis A outbreak spreads to Virginia

By: - April 25, 2019

The hepatitis A outbreak that has spread across 18 states, infecting over 15,000 people, has crept into Virginia. According to the state’s Department of Health, there have been 45 cases reported in Virginia as of the beginning of this week, a 132 percent increase in cases compared to this time last year. The nationwide outbreak […]

Awaiting ‘more compassionate policies,’ Virginia refugee agencies struggle for footing amid drop in admittance

By: - April 23, 2019

Between 2013 and 2017, the number of refugees entering Virginia crept up until it topped 4,200, more than double the number who entered the state just four years earlier. But in 2018, the number plummeted to its lowest in six years, leaving some resettlement agencies scrambling and causing at least one to close its doors. […]

State expects Medicaid work requirement approval no later than the summer

By: - April 16, 2019

Despite courts blocking Medicaid work requirements in other states, Virginia’s proposed program is still slowly working its way toward federal approval. The state expects the federal government will sign off on its work requirement program no later than the summer, said Karen Kimsey, chief deputy director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, which manages […]

‘I’m not calling 911:’ Should drug overdose deaths be treated as felony murder?

By: - April 15, 2019

The best way Jordan Siebert knows to describe it is simple: chaos. The 39-year-old Richmond woman has battled drug use on-and-off since she was an adolescent and she’s seen overdoses. She’s seen strangers carry an unconscious woman from a room. She’s been the subject of those emergency calls for help. “There’s such panic and chaos,” […]

Virginia Mercury

Federal tax proposal would help thousands of low-income Virginia families

By: - April 14, 2019

A proposed federal act introduced last week would “boost financial security” for more than a million Virginia families, according to a new analysis from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The Working Families Tax Relief Act would expand both the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Currently, more than 600,000 Virginia families […]

Most doctors are steering clear of Virginia’s medical marijuana program

By: and - April 14, 2019

When Ailment Wellness Medical Center in Fredericksburg began advertising itself last year as a place patients could see a “medical marijuana doctor,” staff members say the phone started ringing and didn’t stop. “We actually had to have Verizon come in and install two more lines,” says office manager Missy Miles. “Our system started dropping calls […]

Virginia health officials ‘sleeping with one eye open’ amid measles outbreaks elsewhere

By: - April 7, 2019

So far, Virginia has been spared from the blossoming measles outbreaks that have spread to 15 states, the second-largest number seen in the U.S. since the disease was eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health officials say they’re always on high alert for measles, a highly contagious infection […]