Local doctor says key differences between LA, New York play factor in spread of COVID-19

Medical experts say they're bracing for a big spike in coronavirus patients at local hospitals in the coming week.

Though New York leads the nation in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said that the city is only about 7-10 days behind that mark.

"I think the next week is going to be very telling. I think every week gives us more information, so we just have to go week by week and see how it goes," said Dr. Nicholas Testa, Chief Medical Officer with Dignity Health Southern California.

In a Skype interview with Eyewitness News, Dr. Testa said there are a few key differences between New York and Los Angeles that may be contributing to the volume of cases and the spread of the virus.

"I think we have a geographical advantage in living in L.A. We live most commonly in smaller housing complexes or homes, opposed to a lot of apartment buildings and then also, we tend to be in cars a lot more as opposed to public transportation," he said.

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Testa believes that geographical advantage has helped curb the spread.

He added that his hospital has seen a decrease in the number of common medical complaints that usually flood emergency rooms and hospitals and an influx of patients with respiratory complaints.

"But I can't say the hospitals are inundated yet. We're just seeing a steady flux of these patients coming in."

Still, he said, testing is key.

"A patient who knows that they're COVID-19 positive is going to handle their isolation differently than a person who thinks they may be positive or a person who may think they just have the flu," Dr. Testa said. "The more testing we can get our hands on, the better."

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