ER physician on front line of COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Erika Flores Uribe discusses rising COVID cases in Los Angeles and how the Latino community is being affected.
4:18 | 01/28/21

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Transcript for ER physician on front line of COVID-19 pandemic
We will turn now to Los Angeles county, which has been particularly hard hit by the covid-19, estimated that approximately one in three people there have been infected with the virus since the start of this pandemic. That's right, but there is good news. This month, with the average number of new cases in the county dropping from about 15,000 per day, to less than half of that, and here to update us on how things are on the front lines is emergency room physician at L.A. County usc medical center Dr. Erika flores Uribe. Thank you so much for being with us, doctor. And we know that L.A. County's numbers have shown signs of improvement that we just talked about recently. Does that reflect what you're seeing there, in the emergency room? The downtrend in the numbers have definitely been a sigh of relief for many of us on the front line. From the emergency room we've seen this difference, we felt this difference as well. I work at L.A. Usc medical center and I take care of patients in the community there, and lac-usc medical center is one of the largest emergency departments in the country. We have over 100 E.R. Beds. So in the winter, or in December, when we had a very high surge, we actually converted sections, large sections of our E.R., into places where we can take care of covid-positive patients. In the last several weeks, we've been able to convert those areas back so that we're taking care of all of the other emergencies that are coming through our doors. In California we know that those stay-at-home orders were lifted on Monday, and on Friday, people will begin to outdoor dine again. What do you think about the decision to ease California's restrictions? I can share a little bit about what we see in terms of trends in the emergency department. We have seen that when there are larger gatherings, or holidays, where people come together, we've seen numbers go up in the emergency department. During this time, it's going to be really critical that we all do our part. We have capacity to be able to maintain all of the infection prevention behaviors, like staying six feet away from one another, wearing a face covering, washing our hands frequently. It's going to be really important, while we roll out the vaccine, as this is going to take some time for us to vaccinate all of our community members, that we continue to do those practices, and continue to stay home, as much as possible. We can see -- and this is the concern for me from the emergency department -- if we're not diligent in that way, we could see the numbers go up again. And one last thing here. You tell us 75% of the patients you see are black or latinx. What are the challenges you continue to see when it comes to keeping that community safe and healthy, but also in terms of getting that community It is one of the unique reasons why I work at L.A. County, Los Angeles county usc medical center, for the department of health services. Our patient population is very diverse, and three out of four are communities of color. We know that these communities have been most impacted, and that's what I see in the emergency department. We know that the black and African community in L.A. County has two times greater mortality compared to the white population. For the latinx community, that is three times higher than our white ppulation. There has been social inequities that have led to mistrust. During this time, it is going to be really important that we do everything that we can to ensure that we are opening those conversations with our population, and answer any questions that may come up. From L.A. County health from L.A. County health services our work force also comprises or makes up our community, and we've been able to vaccinate almost 17,000 work force members. We have started vaccinating our patients as of last week and we're doing everything that we can to make sure that we are answering the questions and opening up the dialogue for those who may have questions. Dr. Erika flores Uribe, thank you so much for all that you do and we certainly appreciate your time here today as well. Thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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