CDC study says many COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new study from the CDC said about 35 percent of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, they don’t show any signs or symptoms.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.

He said unlike the flu, it's hard to tell how the coronavirus infection spreads if someone is asymptomatic.

“So, it is indeed important because you can't know when you are standing next to someone who can give you the infection,” said Threlkeld.

That’s why the CDC suggested people wear a mask to protect themselves and other people from getting the virus especially anyone with pre-existing health conditions or the elderly.

“We’ve seen that the viral load, the amount of virus someone has in their lungs and nose and spray out at you, can be highest early on just as they are becoming symptomatic,” Threlkeld said. “Even if they do, it’s a little more difficult to know people who are totally asymptomatic and what their viral load kinetics are.”

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FOX13 has reported about outbreaks of COVID-19 in jails and prisons where most inmates were asymptomatic.

Monday we also shared the story of a family of nine from Drummonds, Tenn. that tested positive for the virus after Easter dinner.

Five of the relatives were asymptomatic and some family members wound up in the hospital.

Threlkeld said that’s why social distancing, washing your hands and other safety measures are important.

“The asymptomatic people have become a very important part of this infection so it is indeed important because you cant know when you are next to someone how can give you the infection,” Threlkeld said.

FOX13 reached out to the health department to see if they know what percentage of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County are asymptomatic but they said the health department does not have any data analysis to release.

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