Lawrence Garbuz, the 50-year-old lawyer who was dubbed the coronavirus “patient zero” in New Rochelle, New York, is speaking out for the first time about his harrowing experience with COVID-19.
Garbuz, who has since recovered from the virus, told Today's Savannah Guthrie in an interview Monday that he thought he simply had a "slight cough" when he first fell ill in late February after returning from a recent Miami trip.
"I just thought it was a cough," he said. "Look, I'm a lawyer. I sit at a desk all day. I think at the time we were sort of focusing on individuals who had maybe traveled internationally, something that I had not done. I had certainly not been to China."
He continued on to explain that a few days before the diagnosis, he woke up with a lowgrade fever and decided to get examined.
"I went to the doctor, and he examined me, and he said I needed to go immediately to the emergency room,'' he said.
Garbuz, joined by his wife, Adina, for the interview, said that coronavirus wasn't on the couple's mind and didn't come up "at all" when the lawyer first went to the doctor.
Doctors initially assumed he had pneumonia — but once his condition worsened, he was moved to intensive care, the couple said, adding that Grabuz also had no underlying conditions.
Following Garbuz's diagnosis, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a “containment zone” a mile around the Temple Young Israel, in order to help contain the spread.
On March 30, Gov. Cuomo announced that Grabuz had been released from the hospital.
“By the way, the patient zero … in Westchester, New Rochelle, who was very sick, he’s actually gone home,” Cuomo said in a press briefing at the time. “He’s out of the hospital.”
Now fully recovered, Garbuz told Guthrie that he "appreciates life a lot more" in the wake of his near-death experience and feels "blessed" to be alive.
"Every day is an absolute gift that God has given every one of us to enjoy, that we need to appreciate our family and our friends, and to live life," he said.
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