NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — COVID-19 positive cases are rising rapidly across the country, mainly in the south, in states that started reopening first.
Those numbers are reflected in Nashville, hitting a record high for positive tests in a single day Saturday.
In previous months, Nashville was able to keep the number of positive COVID-19 tests below 10 percent. Midweek the city saw about 15 percent of tests coming back positive. Saturday’s showed 20.3% positive.
“We can put all the testing out there, we can put all the restrictions out there, but if people let their guard down which is what is happening, and they’re being selfish and they are causing this virus to get rampant in our city,” Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force told News 2.
Early on, Tennessee was one of the first states to make testing available to everyone for free. Governor Bill Lee’s intent was to help slow the spread, but mass testing wasn’t the solution alone, Jahangir said.
Despite many assumptions that more testing is the cause for the rise in positive cases— it’s not.
“If the virus was not getting worse and worse in the city when we’re testing more people you would expect to see that percentage go much lower,” Jahangir said, “That’s not happening.”
The average age of those testing positive in Nashville is now 25 to 34 years old and Jahangir says it’s because of complacency.
“Unfortunately, this virus really early on was impacting our Hispanic community,” he explained, “We are now seeing a lot less people of Hispanic ethnicity and contact tracing would tell us that most of these individuals are getting it, you know, at mass gatherings, parties essentially, and bars. And most of these people appear to be more younger professionals who are letting their guard down.”
Jahangir did not mention protests.
Dr. Jahangir says it’s important that younger adults avoid the mentality of ‘getting it to get it over with’ because the mortality rate for those 65 and up in Nashville is at 10 percent.
“This is not the chickenpox. When I grew up we got chickenpox but now everyone gets chickenpox vaccines,” he said, “So that’s the whole ‘flatten the curve’ discussion is that let’s keep the hospitals and others healthy so that we can get to a point where we can get a vaccine and other treatments.”
Buying time, he says, for a vaccine hopefully by 2021.
“In just four months, by the way, I mean we made so much advancements in how we care for these people so part of the reason the mortality rate is going down is because we’ve made great advances in treatment,” he said, “So the more time you buy, the better outcomes you’re going to have.”