In a recent interview, the Westchester lawyer who became known as New York’s COVID-19 “patient zero” said he doesn’t like the moniker “superspreader,” stating that other people have told him they were sick before he was and may have had undiagnosed cases of the disease.
Lawrence Garbuz, who was identified as the first reported COVID-19 carrier in New Rochelle in March 2020, told the Wall Street Journal that he has counseled other COVID-19 patients and that his partner, Adina Lewis, has consoled several spouses.
“If you’re able to sit and talk to somebody and listen, that in itself is very therapeutic,” Garbuz told the newspaper. “I think that we will get through this whole pandemic, when we listen more than we speak.”
The 51-year-old lawyer was the second person in New York state to test positive for the bug, and she spent several weeks in the hospital as a result.
When she arrived in New York, an anonymous woman in her late 30s, who had recently returned from Iran, became the first.
Garbuz said he has agreed to medical researchers’ requests to monitor his health data in order to learn more about the disease’s impact on the lungs, heart, and nervous system.
Dr. Matthew Baldwin of Columbia University Medical Center is leading a study to see whether serious pneumonia caused by the virus causes lung harm, which may explain some of the shortness of breath, exhaustion, and other symptoms, according to the Journal.
“If we really understand what’s causing the problems, we’ll then know what to treat it with, or be able to design the clinical trials for the novel medicines or rehabilitative programs that we hope will make things better for what may be millions and millions of people,” Baldwin told the outlet.
Garbuz and his wife, a partner at a Manhattan law firm whom he refers to as a superhero, have been working remotely from their home, where they also have a 15-year-old. Their three older brothers, ranging in age from 19 to 23, live in New York City and London, respectively.
Lewis and two of her children were contaminated as well. Garbuz said they have been taking it easier and enjoying the surrounding nature since his ordeal, during which he had to be put in a medically induced coma.
According to the Journal, instead of attending a crowded synagogue, the family attends small, socially distant services outside on a neighbor’s lawn, where they wear masks. Garbuz was also recently vaccinated.
Despite the improved health, Lewis said she notices signs of heightened anxiety.