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New York's coronavirus 'patient zero' breaks his silence: Attorney who sparked the New Rochelle cluster claims doctors didn't mention the virus during his first check-up and he thought 'it was just a winter cough'

New York's coronavirus 'patient zero' breaks his silence: Attorney who sparked the New Rochelle cluster claims doctors didn't mention the virus during his first check-up and he thought 'it was just a winter cough'
  • Lawrence Garbuz, 50, known as 'patient zero' said he thought the coronavirus was 'just a cough' before he was hospitalized on February 28
  • During his first visit to doctor, Garbuz said 'there was no mention' of the virus  
  • Garbuz was among the first to be diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 2
  • He passed on the virus to dozens, including his wife and children and neighbor
  • His case led Gov Andrew Cuomo to set up a one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle where Garbuz lives; Cuomo also brought in the National Guard to help
A New York City lawyer known as 'patient zero' has opened up about contracting the coronavirus earlier this year. 
Lawrence Garbuz, 50, was among the first to be diagnosed with coronavirus in New York and passed it on to dozens, after he commuted between the city and his home in Westchester County.
'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 on NBC's Today show. 
'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,' Lawrence Garbuz (pictured with his wife, Adina), 50, said in a clip on NBC's Today show
'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,' Lawrence Garbuz (pictured with his wife, Adina), 50, said in a clip on NBC's Today show
Garbuz appeared in the interview with his wife, Adina, as he revealed that during his first visit to the doctor 'there was no mention' of the virus 'at all'. 
His wife also recalled their first conversation after Garbuz woke up from the coma.  
'He was just himself. The first words he said to me were, "I love you".' 
The Manhattan lawyer, who had not traveled to any country linked with the virus but had recently returned from Miami, first fell ill on February 28. 
His neighbor in New Rochelle drove him to the New York Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, New York, after he started having trouble breathing.
Doctors initially assumed he had pneumonia and he was put in a regular room before being moved to intensive care as he condition deteriorated.
It took four days for him to be diagnosed with coronavirus on March 2, when he became the first case of community spread of the virus in New York.
Before his diagnosis was confirmed, he had come into contact with dozens of doctors and other patients.
Health officials immediately started to retrace his steps and started testing those he had come into contact with.
In addition to hospital staff, it emerged he had come into contact with members of his Temple Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, employees and his law firm and friends.
Lawrence Garbuz
Lawrence is pictured with his wife Adina Garbuz
Garbuz (left) appeared in the interview with his wife, Adina (together, right), as he revealed that during his first visit to the doctor 'there was no mention' of the virus 'at all' 
A large electronic panel instructs motorist to keep vehicle windows closed as they cross into the COVID-19 testing facility located in the containment center of Glen Island Park in the Westchester County city of New Rochelle on March 13
A large electronic panel instructs motorist to keep vehicle windows closed as they cross into the COVID-19 testing facility located in the containment center of Glen Island Park in the Westchester County city of New Rochelle on March 13 
His immediate family, including his wife, 20-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter all tested positive.
The neighbor who drove him to the hospital also contracted the disease.
It then emerged that his friend's family-of-five, including three children, tested positive.
Medical staff at the hospital, members of his law firm and attendees at the Temple Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, of which Garbuz is a member, also became confirmed as cases.
At the end of March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Garbuz had been discharged from the hospital.  
'The "patient zero" - what we call patient zero in Westchester, New Rochelle - who was very sick for a very long time, he has actually gone home,' Cuomo said at the time. 
The outbreak prompted Cuomo to set up a one-mile containment zone in the community where he lived and bring in the National Guard to assist with cleaning public spaces and to deliver food to homes where people are self-quarantined.

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