The lawyer who became the coronavirus ‘patient zero’ in New York State’s Westchester County said in a new interview that, when doctors first examined him, there was “no mention” of the deadly illness that has since infected more than 335,000 in the state.
Lawrence Garbuz — who was revealed on March 2 to be the first-known carrier in New Rochelle, where the contagion quickly spread — spoke out about his ordeal for the first time in a sit-down set to air Monday on NBC News’ TODAY.
“I just thought it was a cough. A winter cough and quite frankly, I’m not certain that any of the sort of medical staff had been thinking about that initially when they examined me,” Garbuz said in a clip of the interview, with his wife Adina by his side.
Asked whether the virus came up during his first visit to the doctor, Garbuz said: “Not at all. There was no mention of it at all.”
The 50-year-old lawyer was the second person in the state revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19. He was released from the hospital in late March.
At one point during his illness, Garbuz had to be placed in a medically induced coma, sources previously told The Post.
A dad of four, Garbuz, who rode the Metro-North train to get to his boutique Manhattan law firm, likely contracted the illness locally.
It quickly spread among dozens in his community — which became the first coronavirus hotspot in the country — prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to establish a mile-in-radius “containment zone” centred on the family’s synagogue.
At least 1,341 people in Westchester County have succumbed to the virus, according to state data. At the height of the outbreak, the county was reporting 30 to 40 deaths a day.
There have been nearly 1.4 million cases and 80,000 deaths from coronavirus in the US as some states look to reopen amid fears the contagious not under control yet.