Watch CBSN Live

Doctor warns of "a new generation of chronically ill patients" if young people don't take COVID-19 seriously

Doctor on COVID-19 death toll, heart impact
Doctor on COVID-19 death toll, heart impact 10:31

Twenty-five states have seen a rise in new COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and health officials worry that young people under the age of 40 who are going back to work or going to bars and restaurants are increasingly becoming victims and chief spreaders.

"We know that if we were to stay home, wear masks, wash our hands and take care of our neighbors we would get this virus under control," Dr. Dara Kass, an ER doctor and Yahoo News medical contributor, told CBSN anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green. "Unfortunately, people don't really want to do that. Some people just want to take the risk they're going to get it, take a pill and expect that they are going to get better — and that is not the circumstance we're going to deal with with this virus."

Through the pandemic and President Trump's push to reopen, his administration has suggested trying to shelter the most physically vulnerable while pressuring states to allow young, healthy people to return to work and other activities.

However, recent studies have shown that even when patients survive the coronavirus — which most do — the disease can have long-lasting effects such as brain and heart damage that could take months or longer to recover from. 

"I am very worried about a new generation of chronically ill patients," Kass said. 

She recalled treating coronavirus patients who at first "look totally fine" until lab tests show "they are basically on fire on the inside."

"Their heart, their lungs, their blood vessels, you know, their kidneys, it really does affect all the organs," Kass explained. "There will be evidence of this having really detrimental effects on the body."

One recent study from the U.K. found troubling signs of "brain complications" in severe coronavirus patients — and while the complications were more likely to result in a stroke in older people, younger people also showed signs of confusion and newly-diagnosed psychiatric conditions. 

A number of recent studies have found the virus may cause an acute inflammatory response in the heart, increased blood clotting and cardiac problems. 

"We see now, in the heart, that there may be long-standing effects of the inflammation and scarring that occurs after having this virus." 

Kass said "residual symptoms" may emerge in patients who have battled the illness for weeks or months.

"It may not affect you for a long period of time," she said, warning that some patients currently in their 30s and 40s "will be dealing with this for probably the next 20 or 30 years."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.