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A Giant Stamp and The Weather Girls: How Washington D.C. Tried to Become America’s New Year’s Eve Party

Hot Topics | December 23rd, 2020

1983 was to be the first year of a grand new Washington D.C. tradition: A 14-by-21 foot replica of the January 1984 “Love” U.S. Postal Service stamp was to be lowered from the spire atop the Old Post Office Building while the public was treated to a party with all the pomp and circumstance of Times Square. Performers included Lee Greenwood and The Weather Girls, with Tony Geary emceeing the festivities. In 1985, Mayor Marion Barry was quoted in The Washington Post saying, “Times Square has more of a history, tradition, but we’re gaining on them…We’re going to outdo New York. We think we might just take over and become the best single event [on New Year’s Eve].”

However, in 1988 Mayor Barry canceled the city’s participation in the New Year’s Eve party. With crime rates rising in the District across the board, Barry declared “it’s no time to celebrate. It’s time to work hard and to pray.” By 1990, nearly all of the ceremony surrounding Washington’s public New Year’s Eve party had evaporated. Today, Washingtonians will watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast from New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans thinking about what could have been.

Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots 

  • In a bid to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines being administered under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA), several prominent American politicians received their shots in public. This included: 
    • Friday, December 18: Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (AP Washington Bureau)
    • Monday, December 21: President-Elect Joe Biden (AxiosThe Hill)
    • Tuesday, December 22: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar (The Hill)

Who’s next in line? 

  • On Sunday, a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advisory panel recommended that adults over the age of 75 as well as essential frontline workers receive access to COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. (Phase 1a includes healthcare workers as well as long-term care facility residents and staff.) Frontline workers were defined as “first responders, teachers and other education workers including day care workers, food and agriculture workers, correctional facility staff, postal workers, public transit workers, and people who work in manufacturing and in grocery stores.” (STAT)

COVID-19 relief bill: Are we there yet? 

  • Congress came to an agreement on a 5,593 page bill with $900 billion earmarked for COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion in government funding. While the future of the bill is up in the air after President Trump announced his intent to veto the current iteration on Tuesday nightRoll Call’s Mary Ellen McIntire broke down the top three healthcare policy implications that are tucked into the bill approved by the House and Senate: 
    • Public health funding: The government funding portion of the bill provides the National Institutes of Health and CDC with increased funding for Alzheimer’s Research, public health preparedness and improvements to laboratory capacity, among other initiatives. Through the COVID-19 relief package, these agencies would receive appropriations for vaccine manufacturing and distribution, contact tracing, COVID-19 research and more. 
    • Surprise medical billing: Beginning in 2022, patients would be protected from surprise medical bills. Notably exempted from the surprise medical billing ban are ambulance trips. 
    • Extend health programs: The bill extends existing funding levels for community health centers, teaching health centers and the national health service corps through the 2023 fiscal year. The bill also extends access to telehealth under Medicare. 
      • Read morePOLITICO published a more detailed summary of the bill.

Holiday homework for HHS and CDC

  • On Monday, the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus released new documents which detail the efforts of political appointees to modify and suppress reports from the CDC. Subcommittee chair Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) also subpoenaed HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield to provide additional “full and unredacted” documents relevant to the ongoing the inquiry by December 30. (POLITICOThe Hill)

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