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The Tall Tail of Washington’s Hometown Ghost

Hot Topics | October 29, 2021

Late at night when members of Congress have retired to their crash pad or office for the night, a terrifying specter haunts the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Known as the Grimalkin, Demon Cat or simply DC, the phantom feline is a local legend that has been a fixture in Washington lore since the Civil War.

The first recorded mention of the Demon Cat dates to 1862 when Union troops were defending the Capitol during the Civil War. Soldiers who were assigned night rounds reported seeing an ordinary black cat grow to the size of a tiger before pouncing and disappearing. Since then, additional sightings have coincided with national emergencies such as the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Demon Cat deniers (a.k.a. historians) are quick to point out that the Capitol was historically home to a horde of (non-demon) cats who helped control the rodent population, and the men who were assigned the Capitol night watch were often political appointees and were known to drink on the job.

Now for the not-so-scary healthcare stories that made headlines this week:

Drug pricing reform dies on eve of Halloween

  • President Biden has abandoned efforts to include drug pricing reform in the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar domestic spending bill. While progressive elements of the Democratic party pushed hard for reforms, a compromise could not be found. Other progressive priorities such as expanding Medicare to include dental coverage have also been removed from the bill. (STAT, The Washington Post)

Shots for tots

  • On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be authorized for children aged 5 to 11 years old. 17 committee members voted to issue the non-binding recommendation to authorize the vaccine with one member abstaining. The decision to authorize the vaccine now rests with the FDA Commissioner, who typically accepts the recommendation of the advisory committee. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also have to authorize the shot following a recommendation from a similar advisory committee before doctors could administer the vaccine to children. (STAT, Axios)

Have a spooky and safe Halloween!

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, went on Fox News Sunday earlier this week to share that trick-or-treating “should be very safe for your children.” Her remarks were similar to those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, who said the annual Halloween tradition is relatively safe because “You’re outdoors for the most part.” (The Washington Post)

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