Lawyer at center of local coronavirus outbreak goes home


The father of an SAR High School student who was one of New York's first confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is finally on his way home.

Lawrence Garbuz, a founding partner of the Manhattan law firm Lewis and Garbuz, was able to return home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday. Although Cuomo didn't identify Garbuz by name, his law firm identified him publicly March 23 while thanking the community for supporting him.

Garbuz tested positive March 2, according to CNN, which prompted some of the first closures because of the virus that causes COVID-19, including both SAR High School — where his daughter is a student — and SAR Academy. It also prompted the closure of Yeshiva University in Manhattan, where his son attends classes. 

The entire immediate family ultimately tested positive for the coronavirus, but only Lawrence had been hospitalized. That family's case was one of the contributing factors in the early isolation of the New Rochelle neighborhood they lived in at the beginning of New York's battle with the pandemic.

His wife, Ardina Lewis Garbuz, shared an update on her his recovery through Facebook on March 18, where he had apparently spent a good part of the earliest days unconscious. Before he was hospitalized, the coronavirus was just starting to get more widespread publicity in the United States following an initial Asian outbreak, and many of the social distancing requirements had yet to go into place.

"For us, a most torturous part was knowing he was waking up confused and disoriented and with no loved one by his side," Lewis Garbuz said in the Facebook posting, calling the situation "heartbreaking."

"I couldn't envision any of us getting through it. But he has been brave and we were lucky that we could FaceTime with him, which made an awful thing somewhat easier."

Lewis Garbuz added the only thing that could be blamed at this point was the virus itself. 

"Hospitals and medical staff are being taxed more than ever, and they are trying their very best to keep their patients, medical personnel and all of us safe." she said. "So I just thank them for the dedication and commitment, and I particularly thank all of those who are so compassionately caring for him despite the scare around them. Please be kind and understanding of all medical professionals who are suffering the same as us, yet with a greater burden."

Even two weeks ago, while her husband was still trying to recover enough to get out of the hospital, Lewis Garbuz remained optimistic when sharing an update with her Facebook friends, and the general community.

"Sounds like we are all in this together for a while longer, but it will pass — just a little bit later than anticipated," she said. "Quarantines have worked and everything else will turna round. I remain very positive, and hope you are too.

"I feel spring in the air (metaphorically only, as I remain in quarantine a bit longer), but I feel good things coming." 

As of Sunday, New Rochelle's Westchester County had 8,519 confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, topped only by the nearly 34,000 confirmed cases in New York City. 

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