What Life Is Like For New Yorks Patient Zero…

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—A year ago, a father of four from this New York City suburb deteriorated in days from having a mild cough to feeling like he was drowning.

He was one of New York’s first coronavirus cases. Soon Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed a containment zone on his town to curb its spread and called him “Patient Zero.” There was an outpouring of support for the man’s family as he lay in a medically induced coma, as well as a few jabs from people who blamed him for an outbreak.

Now Lawrence Garbuz says he feels deep gratitude for the joys of being alive—his family, his Orthodox Jewish community and the beauty of a tree near his doorstep that he barely noticed before he got sick.

At 51 years old, he has counseled other Covid-19 patients who call for advice, and his wife, Adina Lewis, has comforted many spouses. Some were devastated by loss to a disease that killed more than half a million Americans by Monday, including 38,557 in New York.

“If you’re able to sit and talk to somebody and listen, that in itself is very therapeutic,” Mr. Garbuz said in an interview. “I think that we will get through this whole pandemic, when we listen more than we speak.’’

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