Manhattan Atty Diagnosed With COVID-19 Virus

By Emma Cueto
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Law360 (March 3, 2020, 6:54 PM EST) -- An attorney with the small Manhattan firm Lewis & Garbuz PC has been the second person diagnosed with the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in New York and the first case in the state of community spread of the disease, public health officials said Tuesday.

The unnamed attorney, who lives in Westchester County and commutes into Manhattan, sought care Feb. 27 after developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. He recently returned from a trip to Miami but has not visited any of the areas known to be affected, according to officials.

The Bronx high school the attorney's daughter attends has closed, and Yeshiva University, where the attorney's son is an undergraduate, said it is working with government health officials to take "every necessary precaution."

"Now, more than ever, New Yorkers must come together as a city to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or shortness of breath, call your health care provider," New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. "The Health Department will do everything in our power to minimize the disruption caused by this evolving situation, and we will continue to communicate openly and honestly with New Yorkers."

Lewis & Garbuz could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

The firm, whose office is in Midtown Manhattan, has six attorneys and focuses largely on estate planning and elder law, according to its website.

New York health officials also indicated Tuesday that they have lowered the threshold for COVID-19 testing to try to detect community spread of the disease, which has infected 90,800 people globally and killed 3,100, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus leads to fever, cough and shortness of breath. Although many cases are mild, some become severe.

Many large, global law firms have already begun taking precautions in the face of coronavirus concerns. Baker McKenzie temporarily closed its London office last week and asked employees to work from home, which it later revealed was prompted by an employee being tested for the virus. The office reopened after the employee tested negative.

Latham & Watkins LLP, meanwhile, announced last week that it was canceling its upcoming partnership meeting in New York over concerns about the virus.

Other firms have imposed travel restrictions on attorneys, such as Dorsey & Whitney LLP, which has suspended business travel to and from China, and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, which has shut down travel to, from and between its seven offices in Asia.

Firms including Linklaters LLP, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP have asked all employees who have traveled from an affected area to work from home for 14 days, which is considered the maximum incubation period for the virus before symptoms emerge.

There are also concerns that the virus could have a lingering impact on firms' business and affect promotions and hiring in 2020.

--Additional reporting by Michele Gorman, Natalie Rodriguez and Cara Bayles. Editing by Brian Baresch.

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