NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — James Cannizzaro has a harrowing story for you.

He tested positive for coronavirus, but says the malaria drug chloroquine helped save his life.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve come a long way. It has been almost a month since I got the illness and, you know, I’m still on the oxygen. But its good to be home,” James Cannizzaro told CBS2’s Tara Jakeway on Monday.


Cannizzaro left his Brooklyn home to go to the movies with his wife, Jenna, on March 7.

“At about 11 o’clock that night I just felt like something come over me like a wave. All of a sudden I had the shivers, the chills, body aches. I was coughing like crazy,” he said.

That Saturday night was the beginning of his three-week battle against COVID-19.

“When your lungs are filled with fluid, you can’t breathe. It’s like you’re drowning, you’re suffocating,” Cannizzaro said.

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He was in the Intensive Care Unit at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital for 17 days.

“It was just a horrible situation. I’m on a floor and everybody had the virus and people were passing away and I thought I was going to pass away,” Cannizzaro said.

On a Thursday, his doctor told him they were administering chloroquine.

“Friday, I got better. Saturday, I got better. Sunday, I almost felt like my old self. So that drug is really what saved my life, to be honest with you,” Cannizzaro said.

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The 58-year-old had mild asthma and was otherwise healthy. He said he believes he got lucky with the experimental drug, because he was seriously sick early on.

When asked if he has thought about what might have happened if the doctor had not given him that drug, he said, “I think it would have been lights out, I gotta be honest with you.”

Cannizzaro was on the chloroquine for 10 days. On the 11th, he was released.

“When they wheeled me out into the lobby I got a standing ovation. It was pretty cool and I thought to myself, ‘You know what? I bet they’re probably happy to see someone go out in a chair for a change,'” Cannizzaro said.

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Cannizzaro works at Gotham Comedy Club and is a fixture on the celebrity circuit, but now he has a new list of VIPs.

“The people at the hospital were rock stars. They are my heroes, man. They were unbelievable,” he said.

And for those still battling COVID-19, Cannizzaro said, “I’ve been there. I can tell you it will get better. You gotta have the right doctors and right nurses and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Cannizzaro credits his doctor and chloroquine with saving his life. He asks that everyone stay home so you can save yours.

Comments (5)
  1. Rob Lee says:

    If you’re a Democrat or progressive this is absolutely BLASPHEMOUS! Everyone who hates Trump from the NY Times to CNN says this drug will kill you like the couple in Nevada who swallowed the fish tank cleaning version. Stop reporting “selective” results!!! The drug must be banned for use with COVID-19!!!!

  2. Danielle Isanidiot says:

    Shut up Daniell S Williams! You are an IDIOT! This person saved his own life with a drug PROVEN TO WORK AGAINST COVID-19.

    What are the “indicators”? ARE you an IDIOT? READ THE STORY! DOCTORS GAVE IT TO HIM because he was DYING. HE TOOK IT, THEN HE WASN’T DYING!

    “LITERALLY” you are not “QUALIFIED” to give your stupid opinion! This is CBS NEWS! You think you know more than them, a doctor, a hospital and a patient who was DYING and is now ALIVE?


    1. Stewart Gooderman says:

      To Danielle Isanidiot: You have absolutely no idea whether or not Chloroquin worked for this patient. COVID-19 works in very strange ways. One day you’re okay, the next day you need to be wheeled into the ER and the next day you can be fine. You can’t say definitively whether it was the drug or simply a placebo effect that caused the recovery. The patient may want to think it, but you can’t definitively say the drug was the cause.


    This seems like irresponsible reporting. The life cycle of the disease is approximately 3 weeks. Statistically he would have gotten better in the same amount of time. What are the indicators that this drug had ANY effect on that recovery. Literally not a single qualified person was interviewed for this article.

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