Doctors concerned about increase of young people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Shelby County

Watch: People under 35 represent highest number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County, data shows

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — There’s a troubling COVID-19 trend in Shelby County. Health data shows young people under 35 represent the highest number of COVID-19 cases in our community.

“Honestly, it’s one of those things where we don’t think it affects us so we don’t care,” high school senior Ethan Nelson told FOX13.

That appears to be the attitude not just in Shelby County but nationally as well.

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Doctors say they’re seeing more young people in the 20 to 29 age range in the hospital, and less and less wearing masks in public.

“It’s going to happen either way,” said Kenneth Greene. “Probably because no one else is caring.”

18-year-old Greene told FOX13 that’s the general feeling among his friends about COVID-19

“Because at first I was caring but seeing that no one else is so I’m still going to get sick even if I try to care it seems. So it’s like what’s the point at this point?” said Greene.

Shelby County Health Department data shows people 25 to 34 represent more than 20 percent of active COVID-19 cases, followed by those 35 to 44.

Dr. Jon McCullers from UT Health Science Center told FOX13 there’s also been an uptick in young people ending up in the hospital with COVID-19.

And even if you survive, McCullers said the impacts of the virus can last a lifetime.

“We do see morbidity. That means you have long-term lung damage from having the COVID that doesn’t go away and if you’re 20 years old, that’s a long life to live with lung damage and restrictions on your ability to breathe,” said McCullers.

Some teenagers said they know the virus is real but it’s hard to know how serious it can be.

“I wouldn’t say it’s not possible for me to get it because obviously it is,” said Gerald Barnes II. “It’s a real thing, but for the people that get, I feel people that get it and are young and they’re fine afterward so it’s’ hard to tell how dangerous it is.”

Dr. McCullers said everyone needs to be careful, practice social distancing and of course, wear a mask if you’re out and about.

He said he believes Gen Z also has to take some responsibility and encourage their friends to take these precautions too.

National figures show that almost as soon as states started reopening, people 18 to 49 years old quickly became the age bracket most likely to be diagnosed with new cases. And although every age group saw an increase in cases during the first week in June, the numbers shot up fastest in this younger age group.

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