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COVID-19 research bill named in honor of St. Edward student Brycen Gray passes US House

If passed, the bill would help experts look at how COVID affects the brain. Brycen died by suicide last year following a bout with the virus.

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — This past April, the Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Neurological Impact Act was introduced in the United States Congress. It's partially named after St. Edward High School student Brycen Gray, who died by suicide in 2021.

The bill, since renamed the Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Cognitive Research Act, seeks to better understand how COVID-19 can affect the brain. It was originally introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, but later got the support of three senators — including Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown — and passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night by a bipartisan vote of 350-69.

The legislation points at research from The Lancet, which looked at how many people had negative neurological side effects from the virus. It followed more than 230,000 virus survivors, and found 0.4% of them developed a mental disorder. It compared them for six months to those who had other illnesses like the flu.

On the House floor Tuesday night, Gonzalez said the bill is of utmost importance to protect our children.

"If we believe in protecting our families, we need to act now and find answers as to why COVID-19 can have such a significant impact on the brain," he stated. "The legislation before us today is another significant step forward in that effort."

If the bill passes in the Senate, Gonzalez adds it would allow more research to be done on the cognitive impacts of the virus by allowing the National Science Foundation to award grants on a competitive basis to support interdisciplinary research on the disruption of regular cognitive processes associated with both short-term and long-term coronavirus infections. 

"Grantees would be tasked with carrying out foundational studies on the effects of cognition, emotion, neuro structure, and function related to COVID-19 infections, developing new tools to evaluate cognitive disruptions from COVID-19, and examining the relevance of psychosocial and psychological factors," he stated. Once research would be complete, the measure asks that a final report on the studies findings be turned in.

Despite overwhelming support from both parties, 69 GOP representatives voted against the bill, including one whose district partly represents Northeast Ohio: Rep. Jim Jordan. 3News has reached out to the congressman's office for comment.

Brycen's is also getting ready to host a memorial golf outing next Saturday to raise money for their Brycen Gray Memorial Foundation, benefitting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. You can read the full legislation below:

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