Nashville doctors warn those under 40 to take virus more seriously after spike in cases

Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 21:52:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Public Health says the majority of their COVID-19 cases we now see, are from people 30 years old or younger. Meanwhile in Tennessee, 43 percent of cases around the state involve people under 40

It’s a trend Dr. Bill Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center says could make for second surge of hospitalizations later this year.

“We’re all concerned because we’re seeing not only here, but around the country more and more young people infected,” said Dr. Schaffner.

Younger people are much more likely to be asymptomatic, which makes what we’ve seen around Nashville far more problematic for Dr. Schaffner.

The Gulch is one neighborhood in Nashville where you’ll find many of the people who make up the under 40 demographic. It’s also where you can expect to see what experts with the World Health Organization are calling “second wave behavior.” That’s when people see restrictions loosening around them and they decide to let their guard down thinking they’re less likely to contract a severe case of COVID-19.

The danger of course is that anyone here can then carry the virus with them for days and infect someone with a compromised immune system.

While more people in this demographic are now being tested as they get back to work, Dr. Schaffner says the reality is they’re also going out more and surrounding themselves with friends.

“First of all, it’s summer. Second, people have cabin fever. They want to get out and about. Third, they’re forgetful and some frankly don’t care. Particularly younger people who are not themselves at the same risk as older people are,” said Dr. Schaffner.

24-year-old Alison Hecker is visiting from Milwaukee and wasn’t sure she’d find the Nashville she’d heard all about. Not only did she find it, she was shocked to see businesses operating at nearly full capacity.

“When I look around I see most people not wearing masks and it’s definitely a lot more lively here than it is in Wisconsin right now,” said Hecker.

We asked several people around the same age group if the rise in cases was enough to keep them home. Some were reluctant to speak on camera, but still shared the same thoughts as Noah Haney.

He wasn’t too bothered by the numbers. If anything, he knew most people were risking their health to return to some sort of normalcy. He says with everything already on the minds of young people today, coronavirus is just another layer.

“We’ve all got a lot of debt and we don’t own houses and the job market is s**t. We’re all sort of hopeless. We just don’t really care. Like we’re not really that worried about it,” said Haney.

Keep in mind, Noah still carries his mask and experts say if there was a compromise, this would be it.

“We know it works. I know it’s become somewhat politicized, but the virus knows no politics. Red, blue, orange, it doesn’t care. It just wants to infect people. We all need to understand that wearing masks is the new normal,” said Dr. Schaffner.

Experts say you’re more likely to catch the virus being around family, close friends and colleagues. They do however still warn against going to large group activities if you’re not wearing a mask.