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Sun Apr 5, 2020, 08:55 AM

How New Jersey's First Coronavirus Patient Survived

James Caiís case was completely new to his doctors. When he grew severely ill, he tapped a network of Chinese and Chinese-American medical colleagues who helped save his life.

By Susan Dominus

April 5, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

n the evening of March 4, James Cai, a 32-year-old physician assistant, was languishing on a cot, isolated in a small, windowless room on the emergency-room floor of Hackensack University Medical Center, when the television news caught his attention. Before that moment, Cai had been in a strange medical limbo, starting midday on March 2, when he left a medical conference in Times Square because he had a bad cough. Instead of heading to his home in Lower Manhattan, he texted his wife that he was going to spend the night at his momís place in New Jersey. His mother was out of town, and if he had the flu, he could spare his wife and their daughter, a cheerful 21-month-old who clung to him when he was home, the risk of catching whatever it was. That was Cai: cautious, a worrier, overprotective, the kind of medical professional who liked to rule out the worst-case scenarios first.

At his motherís home that evening, he waited until about 8 oíclock., when he thought the urgent-care facility nearby would be relatively empty, then headed over for a flu test. If it was not flu, he could think about going home. He put on a mask before the doctor examined him and learned that his heart rate was elevated, which did not surprise him: He could feel the palpitations. He got a flu and a strep test and asked for a Covid-19 test as well, only because they might as well be exhaustive; but the doctor told him he did not have the test, and neither of them thought much about it after that.


On March 2, many doctors on the East Coast still saw Covid-19 as an ominous but distant threat. Although several elderly people had died by then of complications from coronavirus in Washington State, the outbreak seemed mostly contained to that part of the country. Only two people on the East Coast had tested positive: a health care worker from Iran and a lawyer from New Rochelle, N.Y., whose results were reported the same day Cai went to the doctor. At the urgent-care center, the doctor reported that his chest X-ray looked normal, and the flu and strep tests came back negative. But the doctor was worried that Caiís symptoms ó that cough, surprisingly powerful for something that had kicked in so recently, and an elevated heart rate ó were consistent with a possible pulmonary embolism, a clot in an artery in his lung that could prove fatal. He advised him to go immediately to the nearest emergency room, H.U.M.C., where they could give him a CT scan, which would provide a more detailed picture. Cai drove to the hospital and waited for his scan on a cot in a hallway. Not long after, he was moved to the small, windowless room, where he started to feel even worse: short of breath, feverish. He had diarrhea, and the brief walk to the bathroom nearby left him exhausted. He took a video of himself to show his wife, and in it he looks a little wild-eyed; he is breathing fast, as if he has just been chased and whatever was chasing him is right outside the door.

The next morning, March 3, not long after his CT scan, a nurse came to give him a Covid-19 test. The nurse was wearing full personal protective equipment, which typically includes eye protection, a respirator mask, gloves, a long gown and a head cap. The hospital had not tested him earlier because the C.D.C. guidelines at the time suggested that testing should be reserved for those who had recently traveled to China or come into close contact with someone believed to have the virus. Cai had not been there for years and to his knowledge had not been in contact with anyone who had tested positive. Now he thought they were just being thorough.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/magazine/first-coronavirus-patient-new-jersey.html?referringSource=articleShare

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Reply How New Jersey's First Coronavirus Patient Survived (Original post)
BeckyDem Apr 5 OP
lark Apr 5 #1
BeckyDem Apr 5 #2
SheltieLover Apr 5 #3
7wo7rees Apr 5 #4

Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 5, 2020, 10:52 AM

1. Damn, he is a very lucky man that he had influential friends who saved his life.

This just points out how broken our system is and if this was one of us, we'd be dead because we wouldn't have had his resources.

Very glad for him, very scared for the rest of us.

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Response to lark (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 5, 2020, 10:55 AM

2. Exactly.

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Response to lark (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 5, 2020, 11:05 AM

3. This!👆

K&R

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Response to lark (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 5, 2020, 12:40 PM

4. Just read this and scared the shit out of me in Dallas. I've not been

able to put the pieces of this puzzle together till reading this harrowing account. Its hopeful but explains in no uncertain terms why so many are dying. Early testing and treatment is key and none of it is available to the masses.

And the way it is ripping through nursing homes and assisted living centers is criminal. No one, not one single pundit is addressing questions, how and why?
The staff coming in and out each and every day. Low paid workers living paycheck to paycheck who have to work to survive, sick or not.

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