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COVID-19: Infectious Disease Expert Joins U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff for Town Hall

Rekha Murthy, MD, Tells Angelenos that Everyone Can Help Slow the Spread

As Los Angeles prepares to head into the expected surge of COVID-19 patients, Cedars-Sinai is gearing up to treat the most critical patients.

And everyone can help by practicing social distancing and staying at home to slow the speed of the virus spread, said Rekha Murthy, MD, an infectious disease specialist, vice president of Medical Affairs and associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai.

During a Town Hall Los Angeles discussion moderated by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, Murthy said social distancing will help caregivers be able to take care of the sick without overwhelming the healthcare system.

"We have not seen anything of this magnitude before," said Murthy. "This novel coronavirus isn't just a 'bad flu,' but rather an aggressive respiratory illness in some people, though most have a mild illness. It clearly has the ability to easily spread from one person to another, making it increasingly more important to practice social distancing and follow hygiene best practices to reduce the risk of spread in the community."

Hygiene best practices include properly washing your hands, using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available and staying at home.

COVID-19 is passed from person to person through respiratory droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. The virus travels on the droplets and can enter another person's system either by landing on their face if nearby, or if a person touches a surface where the droplets may have landed and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

"The incubation period for COVID-19 is much longer than a traditional cold or flu, lasting anywhere from five to 12 days," said Murthy to callers. "This 'slow burn' as we call it is why we need people to stay home. Doing so will provide a fighting chance to slow the pace of new infections and give Cedars-Sinai and other healthcare institutions an opportunity to prepare and to treat patients who need the most care." 

In addition to Rep. Adam Schiff, Murthy was joined on the call by Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, the Los Angeles County health officer. Town Hall Los Angeles is a nonprofit speaking forum based in Los Angeles and founded in 1937. It has hosted over 3,500 unpaid speakers, including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Condoleezza Rice and Dianne Feinstein.

Click here to listen to the Town Hall session. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: 5 Tips for Healthy Working From Home Habits