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.
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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.
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.
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.