Lawyer David Lat has reported on legal matters for many years as founder of the ‘AbovetheLaw’ legal blog, but the now-legal recruiter is lying in a Manhattan hospital bed being treated for coronavirus.
In a New York Law Journal story, Lat described the isolation in his room, sing ‘negative pressure’ to exclude germs and described what it is like having the virus.
Battling hour after hour with the novel coronavirus, he says he’s experienced intermittent fevers, joint aches, chills, fatigue and coughing for about 12 days, and, since last Sunday, has been pushing through labored breathing that barely allows him to walk from his hospital bed to a bathroom five or 10 feet away.
He feels like he will collapse, as he rises, he says.
He doesn’t know his prognosis.
From his home in the Flatiron District of Manhattan—where Lat, 44, lives with his husband and their son—he made it into an emergency room on Sunday and was admitted at NYU Langone Hospital on Monday. But his hospital admission only came after, he says, a travail and a confusing battle to get tested for the virus.
It was an unneeded delay, he says, that he wants people to know was fueled by “a lot of bureaucracy attached to this crisis that is affecting our ability to respond.”
He had gone to NYU Langone’s emergency room on Sunday, after a week of building and ultimately severe symptoms, and first had to go through a test to rule out a normal flu or cold. When that came back showing nothing on Sunday, he thought he would immediately get a COVID-19 test. But he was told no.
“I don’t know the source of this rule or regulation, but I had to have my primary doctor call the hospital back the next day to schedule me for the test.”
He has been hitherto healthy, having run two New York City marathons in the past, and with intense interval training each week, while also walking about 25 miles a week. He does, however, have exercise-induced asthma.
“It’s scary, it’s scary to be a mostly healthy person who now can’t even walk five feet,” Lat told the New York Law Journal in a phone interview Wednesday night, as he spoke candidly about contracting the coronavirus—he doesn’t know how, when or from whom, he just knows it was from community spread—and about how he suddenly finds himself in what may be a fight for his life.
Asked about family and friends perhaps entering in protective gear, he responded quickly, “No, this is total isolation. Even the doctors and nurses here come in very infrequently.”
His message to society, he told the Law Journal—one that he’s also been getting out since Tuesday, using Twitter posts and long tweet threads that he calls “Above the Hospital Bed”—is two-pronged and straightforward.
“The importance of widespread testing,” is one, he says, sounding markedly sharp and even energetic, at times, over the phone—attributes of his voice that he says would not be possible without oxygen being pumped into his body.
Don’t Underestimate This . .
The other message, he says, is that “I think people shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of this.”
His Twitter stories, told over a personal feed with nearly 47,000 followers—and which have attracted responses from the legal community, as well as from Hollywood celebrities like Cher and Patricia Arquette—can be startling while also functioning as a public service.
Now, he says, over Twitter, “In my current state, #LivingWithCovid, I am constantly weak and winded. I’m hooked up to oxygen 24/7. Even with oxygen, the simplest tasks are extremely difficult. #LatsCovid19Journal”
He adds, remaining measured, that “to be sure, #COVID19 hits different people differently #ymmv. I gave it to my husband, and for him it was a low-level flu that seems to have almost run its course” after 10 days. Then he lists more hashtags, such as #coronavirus and #CoronavirusOutbreak.
Still, he explains that “for those who get severe cases, like me, it’s been hell. I’ve had 10 days & counting, with no real improvement, of fever, fatigue, joint aches, chills, cough, respiratory difficulty. I have never been this sick in my entire life.”