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LAist: Why Did LA Fare Better Than New York During the Pandemic and What Can We Learn About Potential Future Spread?

LAist program AirTalk recently featured Kimberly Shriner, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Huntington Health, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai, in a conversation about the effect of COVID-19 on Los Angeles County compared with New York City and lessons for the future.

New York City had a 40% higher death rate than L.A. County, according to a new Los Angeles Times analysis of public health data. Several factors could explain the differing impact of COVID-19 on the two metro areas, including when and where virus variants emerged, the timing of stay-at-home orders, the duration of mask mandates, the number of older adults in these areas and access to healthcare in historically underrepresented groups, Shriner told AirTalk host Austin Cross.

“I think it’s complicated, and it’s going to take some time to really decipher what the important things are,” Shriner said. “It’s not going to be just one thing.”

She told Cross that further research of COVID-19 is crucial to “continue to maintain those things that are helpful in protecting people.”

Another factor that might have contributed to New York City’s death toll is the vaccination rate among older adults, who slightly outnumber their counterparts in L.A. County. Currently, only 32% of individuals 65 and older in New York City have received an updated bivalent booster compared to 45.8% of those in L.A. County.

Shriner told Cross that the effect of COVID-19 on areas such as L.A. County and New York City has highlighted the importance of masking and vaccination, especially among older adults and other vulnerable individuals.

“We also now have therapies for this particular virus, and I think it’s important that we stay on top of that,” she said.

To avoid another COVID-19 winter surge, Shriner encouraged people to get the latest vaccine boosters available by the end of September.

Click here to listen to the complete episode of AirTalk.