What We’re Reading: Pandemic’s Toll on Mississippi Children; COVID-19 Deaths in Overweight Adults; Senate Acts on Stimulus Bill

A study finds rates of pediatric COVID-19 cases in Mississippi were largely underestimated; countries with more overweight citizens report more COVID-19 deaths; Senate acts to pass $1.9 trillion relief package.

COVID-19 Rates in Mississippi Children Higher Than Previously Thought

A new study found that pediatric cases of COVID-19 are 10 times greater than previously thought in Mississippi, according to ABC News. Because children are more likely to have asymptomatic COVID-19, many infections may go undiagnosed, pediatricians said. The study, which measured levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in blood samples among people younger than 18, showed antibody prevalence increased from 2.5% in May 2020 to 16.3% in September 2020. Rates suggest around 113,800 children and adolescents in the state had been infected by September, while only 8,993 cases were reported to the Mississippi Health Department by that time. Some experts noted results from the case-based surveillance investigations likely underestimate the rate of infections.

Majority of COVID-19 Deaths Occur in Countries With Overweight Populations

A report published by the World Obesity Federation shows the vast majority of global COVID-19 deaths occurred in countries with high levels of obesity, The Washington Post reported. According to findings, in the first year of the pandemic over 88% of deaths were in countries where over half the population is classified as overweight, defined as a body mass index of over 25. Severe obesity is also a known risk factor of death from COVID-19, outweighing related risk factors like diabetes or hypertension. Nations with overweight populations above the 50% threshold, including the United States, Britain and Italy, also experienced the largest proportions of COVID-19 deaths. More than 2.5 million people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic’s onset, with the United States accounting for over 517,000 deaths.

Senate Acts to Pass Relief Bill Prior to Expiration of Unemployment Aid

In an effort to beat a deadline to prevent unemployment aid from expiring on March 14, the Senate took its first major step toward passing President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, CNBC reported. The chamber voted to start debate on the rescue package as Vice President Kamala Harris broke the 50-50 tie that split along party lines. The package could be approved as early as this weekend, although several procedural hurdles still have to be cleared. The Senate is expected to hold votes today on amendments to the bill as part of a budget reconciliation process. Once the plan is passed, the House hopes to approve it by the middle of next week. In addition to providing stimulus checks to some Americans, the legislation also provides more funding to infrastructure and rural health care.