April 08, 2022

Duckworth, Cassidy, Brown Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Research on the Impact on Cognitive Processes Due to COVID–19 Infection


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand and support research surrounding the neurological impacts of COVID-19. The Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Cognitive Research Act would authorize the National Science Foundation to award grants on a competitive basis to support interdisciplinary research on the disruption of cognitive processes associated with both short-term and long-term COVID–19 infections among adults, children and adolescents. This bipartisan legislation comes after the tragic loss of Illinois native Ben Price and Ohio native Brycen Gray last year, both of whom had no history of mental illness, but took their own lives after suffering from COVID-19. U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16) sponsored bipartisan companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Ben Price and Brycen Gray are just two of the many Americans across our nation who have tragically lost their lives to neurological illnesses that may have been triggered by COVID-19—even though they had no history of mental illness prior to becoming infected by this deadly virus,” said Senator Duckworth. “There is so much more we must do to better understand COVID-19 and its impacts on people’s lives at a fundamental level. I’m proud to introduce the Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Cognitive Research Act with Senators Cassidy and Brown to help expand research into this issue, honor those we’ve lost and work to prevent future tragedies.”

“The pandemic showed us the need to prioritize mental health and support those suffering,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Our bill increases research into COVID’s short- and long-term impacts on mental health and effects on the brain.”

As a result of the pandemic, people have experienced isolation, fear, disruption to routines, and in too many cases, the death of a caregiver or a loved one – as was the case for the family of Brycen Gray, who tragically lost his life to suicide a year ago. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have had on mental health have been stark – but we still have a lot of work to do before we can understand the full scope of long-term, neurological disorders that stem from the virus,” said Senator Brown. “This legislation is an important first step toward understanding, treating, and ultimately preventing those long-term side effects that harm our physical health and our mental health.”

“The heartbreaking losses of Brycen Gray and Ben Price have shone an unforgiving light on how little we know about COVID-19’s direct impact on mental health,” said Rep. Gonzalez said. “While we’ve made great strides in further understanding COVID-19 and its complexities, significant research gaps remain as to how and why this virus can hit the brain and trigger serious cognitive impairments. Our bill effectively closes the research gaps and lays the groundwork for preventing and treating these impairments in the future. I am proud to honor the legacies of Brycen and Ben and work alongside Sen. Duckworth, Sen. Brown, and Sen. Cassidy in advancing this important legislation.”

“The importance of this bill cannot be overlooked,” said Jennifer Price, widow of Ben Price. “The neurological impact of Covid is great and has impacted and devastated many families like mine. Had I known about Covid Psychosis and the neurological impact that Covid had on the brain my husband would be here today. Knowledge is power but without action it’s useless. We need action to help save more lives!”

The copy of the bill text can be found here.

Duckworth is dedicated to advancing legislation that would support the millions of Americans who live with the devastating impacts of COVID-19. Yesterday, Duckworth introduced the Targeting Resources for Equitable Access to Treatment for Long COVID (TREAT Long COVID) Act along with U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) as well as U.S. Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Don Beyer (D-VA-08) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) to increase access to medical care and treatment for communities and individuals suffering from long COVID. In March, Duckworth helped introduce the Comprehensive Access to Resources and Education (CARE) for Long COVID Act along with Kaine and Markey to improve research on post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), more commonly referred to as long COVID, as well as provide resources for those experiencing it.