Coronavirus update: COVID-19 linked to ‘brain shrinkage’

Photo (c) Andriy Onufriyenko - Getty Images

A poll shows that Americans are less worried about COVID-19

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 79,344,301 (79,271,466)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 960,563 (958,621)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 448,294,865 (446,559,210)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,009,755 (6,001,094)‌

Scientists link COVID-19 to ‘brain shrinkage’ 

A new study published in the journal Nature has reached a disturbing conclusion: Patients infected with even a mild case of COVID-19 can suffer damaging effects to their cognitive ability. The study found that brain damage was detectable in patients months after infection.

The researchers said brains lost mass at a rate of 10 years of normal aging. As a result, the patients suffered a decline in their mental function.

The study’s conclusions point to the virus' impact on the central nervous system, something previous studies have found.  The researchers said further research will be needed to determine whether the coronavirus will contribute to an increase in dementia as the population ages.

Poll shows concerns about COVID-19 are declining

If it seems like huge swaths of Americans no longer worried about the coronavirus, it might not be your imagination. A monthly poll conducted by Verdict found that public concern about COVID-19 fell from 40.5% in January to 33.4% last month.

The declining poll numbers coincide with a sharp drop in new cases and deaths. On Monday, there were 40,064 new cases of the virus reported by Johns Hopkins University. That compares with 69,459 on March 7, 2021.

The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 dropped 17% from the previous week. The majority of states have now ended public mask mandates.

Heart patients may face greater risk from COVID-19

People who suffer from a congenital heart defect and who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were at a higher risk for severe illness or death, according to a study by the American Heart Association. They were also more likely to require treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU) or need a ventilator.

The risks were not evenly divided. Among those who had the highest risk for the most severe COVID-19 illness were patients who were at least 50-years-old and male.

“Data comparing COVID-19 outcomes among individuals with and without congenital heart defects has been limited,” said lead author Karrie Downing, M.P.H., an epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Downing noted that the study will significantly add to research on the topic.

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy said he hopes the just-ended mask mandate for schools remains only a bad memory. “Can I say that they’re done forever? I don’t think anyone can say that for sure. I certainly hope we’re done forever,” Murphy said in an interview with CNBC.

  • Florida: The state’s surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, said Florida will become the first state to officially recommend against giving the COVID-19 vaccine to healthy children. The White House said that move is “deeply disturbing.”

  • Minnesota: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has filed a lawsuit against GS Labs, a COVID-19 testing facility, over accusations that it overcharged the insurance provider. The suit seeks to recover more than $10 million that the insurer claims it was overcharged.

  • Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that most indoor COVID-19 masking requirements will be phased out starting Friday. The mandate originally was set to expire on March 21, but the governor said he was moving up the date because of the rapid decline in cases.

  • Michigan: While COVID-19 numbers continue to fall across the U.S., there are some exceptions. Health officials in Michigan reported seven new COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools last week, affecting 36 students and staff. All of the schools are located in Wayne County.

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