Mark Frilot, 45, a Louisiana-based shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, is in critical condition after testing positive with COVID-19, his firm confirmed Monday.
Frilot, a construction litigator who practices in the firm’s New Orleans and Mandeville offices, first noticed symptoms back on March 6, according to the firm.
His wife, Heaven Frilot, told NOLA.com that her husband, whom she described as normally “never, ever, sick,” hadn’t improved by March 7, when he went to an urgent care center and was diagnosed with the flu, given Tamiflu, prednisone and some cough syrup, and sent home.
Mark Frilot worsened further and went to the emergency room the next day, where a doctor told him that he had been misdiagnosed and that he was a candidate for the still-difficult-to-obtain COVID-19 test, according to his wife’s account. Several hours later, Frilot was diagnosed with COVID-19 and double pneumonia and was put in critical care and isolation, she said.
As of Sunday evening he had been sedated and was breathing with the assistance of a ventilator, NOLA.com reported.
John Hicks, Baker Donelson’s general counsel, said Frilot is “a great guy, widely respected.” Frilot has been at the firm for almost 16 years.
“We have been cooperating with the board of health in New Orleans to notify everyone who may have been in contact with him and assist them in whatever notifications they thought were appropriate,” Hicks said in an interview.
In a statement, the Tennessee-based firm said that “no other Baker Donelson team members have been affected.” The firm has closed its offices in Mandeville and New Orleans and is encouraging personnel to work remotely at its other 19 offices.
A firm spokesperson said after it contacted the health authorities, the firm was able to obtain testing kits for its employees after it had them fill out a form signaling if they had recent contact with Frilot. Those who had were given tests.
Court documents seeking an extension in one of Frilot’s cases indicate he was involved in arbitration proceedings during the first week of March, and a person with knowledge of the situation said that Frilot had been at another law firm’s offices for an arbitration from March 3 to March 5. Baker Donelson has been in contact with that firm about possible exposure, the person said.
Both Heaven Frilot and her son have been in self-quarantine after showing symptoms March 11, according to her interview with NOLA.com. The son went to school at St. Martin’s Episcopal in Metairie for a couple of days last week after he tested negative for the flu. Heaven Frilot later notified the school of her husband’s diagnosis.
The school, like many others, is now closed until at least next month.
As of March 14, the CDC reported that Louisiana had 14 confirmed cases, with a window of between 11 and 20. As of the morning of March 16, that number had increased to 114 with two deaths. Most of the cases were concentrated in and around the greater New Orleans area, with 10 of the state’s 64 parishes reporting infections. The state has conducted 284 tests overall.
In a statement, Baker Donelson said it has a “comprehensive continuity plan” that will allow the firm to serve its clients. “Baker Donelson joins the rest of society in keeping those affected by COVID-19 in our thoughts and prayers and in hopes of an early return to normalcy,” the firm said.