Coronavirus update: Health officials push for more COVID-19 funding

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Scientists are investigating children’s resilience against the virus

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 79,850,511 (79,805,851)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 974,976 (973,381)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 474,152,127 (474,340,642)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,106,547 (6,100,583)‌

CDC says cases are falling but more funding is needed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in an encouraging direction. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, says the current seven-day daily average of cases is about 28,600, a decrease of about 9% over the previous week. 

“We have seen cases decrease dramatically over the past few weeks,” Walensky said at a White House press briefing. “And our national numbers remain close to historic lows, which is really encouraging.  In some areas, we are now recording small increases even as cases continue to fall in other areas.”

Despite the declines, administration health officials say Congress should appropriate additional funds to counter the virus. They warn that the BA.2 subvariant could result in a surge in new cases like many other countries have experienced.

Scientists studying how COVID-19 affects children

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the coronavirus is why some people get really sick while others don’t have any symptoms. In particular, scientists have tried to understand why most children don’t get very sick.

Dr. Andrew Freedman, an academic in infectious diseases at the U.K.’s Cardiff University Medical School, says theories have suggested a number of different reasons, mostly revolving around a child’s immune system.

Theories include “a more effective innate immune response, less risk of immune over-reaction as occurs in severe COVID, fewer underlying co-morbidities and possibly fewer ACE-2 receptors in the upper respiratory epithelium — the receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 binds,” Freedman told CNBC.

Leafy vegetables may slow COVID-19, researchers find

Here’s another reason to have another helping of broccoli. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center are citing evidence from lab experiments that suggest a chemical from a compound found abundantly in broccoli and other leafy plants may offer a potentially new and potent weapon against the viruses that cause COVID-19. As an added benefit, they say it may also protect against the common cold.

In a study described in the Nature journal Communications Biology, the researchers demonstrated that the chemical can inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and another human coronavirus in cells and mice.

The group also examined the effects of the chemical – sulforaphane – when combined with remdesivir, an antiviral medication used to shorten the recovery of hospitalized adults with COVID-19 infections. The research team reports that sulforaphane and remdesivir interacted synergistically at several combination ratios to reduce the virus in cells by 50%.

Around the nation

  • Texas: The Texas Department of State Health Resources reports that the number of Texas residents hospitalized for COVID-19 has dropped to its lowest number since April 2020. As of March 21, 1,425 Texans were hospitalized with the virus.

  • New York: Mask mandates have fallen by the wayside in New York, but the vaccination mandate for state employees remains in place. More than 150 New York state court employees, including four state judges, could be fired soon if they don’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Indiana: Indiana’s COVID-19 tracking map is almost solid blue, with all but five counties now in the lowest transmission rate category. The five counties that are in the yellow category are experiencing a moderate spread of the virus. Statewide, no counties are in the more serious color categories.

  • Oregon: The mask mandate has ended, but state health officials say there has been an unintended consequence. Cases of COVID-19 have remained low, but cases of the flu are trending higher. Officials say mask-wearing has kept influenza cases in check for the last two years.

  • Tennessee: A bill introduced in the state legislature would make the antiviral drug ivermectin available at pharmacies without a prescription. The drug has been promoted by some as a treatment for COVID-19, but the FDA has not authorized it for that use. The drug is commonly used to treat malaria.

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