To the editor: There were two important factors that the article comparing COVID-19 outcomes in New York and Los Angeles did not mention. One was that initially public health officials thought that infection from China was the primary threat, but New Yorkers returning from Italy in March 2020 were also bringing the virus.

In addition, Gov. Gavin Newsom and his advisors did a good job transferring patients to available beds, ignoring traditional referral lines that the doctors in New York maintained. Reporting has shown that there were empty beds within 20 minutes of Elmhurst, the hard-hit hospital in Queens.

My husband, a physician practicing in Oakland, received a non-COVID-19 patient from San Quentin State Prison to increase that facility's capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. Someone in authority here insisted that doctors take patients across systems because of the health emergency, saving many lives.

Toni Martin, M.D., Berkeley


To the editor: As an ex-New Yorker and frequent visitor to that city, I am surprised that your article did not mention one reality of life in New York.

Just about everyone there takes public transportation to get around, particularly from the boroughs to and from Manhattan and the outlying suburbs. Subways and buses are jammed with riders breathing, sneezing and talking, including those coming and going from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In Los Angeles, many of us, though we didn’t know it yet, went about our lives in those early months protected because we were isolated, usually alone, in the cocoon of our automobiles.

Hella Hershson, Los Angeles


To the editor: Although it's been many years since I earned my master's degree in public health, I recall that incidence precedes mortality. Nowhere in this article is the incidence of COVID-19 infections in New York compared to that in L.A. County. The pertinent death rate is a percentage of COVID-19 cases, not just a percentage of total population.

Also missing is any mention of housing density. L.A. has a higher percent of its population in single-family residences. This may also have played a role, along with timing and other factors mentioned in the article.

Susan Wolfson, Glendale

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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