David Lat is in critical condition and has been put on a ventilator at NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan, where his fight with the coronavirus has taken a turn for the worse, according to his husband, Zachary Baron Shemtob.
In a phone interview on Saturday evening, Shemtob said that at some point late Friday night or early Saturday morning, Lat, founder of the legal blog Above the Law and now a widely recognized legal recruiter, was put on a ventilator after “his oxygen levels dropped.”
“He’s not doing great,” Shemtob said, adding that the NYU Langone doctors and other staff “are really attending to him. They’re taking it hour by hour, day by day.”
Lat, who is a Yale Law School graduate, a former federal prosecutor and the author of a legal-appeals-centered novel, is 44 years old.
Asked if the doctors had talked about or know Lat’s prognosis, Shemtob responded, “It’s a bit much for me right now.” He said it was not clear if any prognosis is even known.
“I just want folks to know that he is so strong; he is hanging in there, and we are praying he’ll recover,” Shemtob said. “Any thoughts or prayers people have are much appreciated.”
Shemtob, a former clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Robert Sack and a former associate at Cooley, echoed a message that Lat himself delivered during a phone interview on Wednesday night. “I just want people to know how serious this can be,” Shemtob said.
In Lat’s Wednesday interview and in Twitter posts and threads he posted last week from his hospital bed, he said that he’s generally been a very healthy person. He’s run two New York City marathons and until recently did intense interval training each week and walked about 25 miles a week, as well.
Lat said that he does have exercise-induced asthma. Shemtob on Saturday said the asthma may be making it harder for Lat to deal with COVID-19, which affects the respiratory system.
“It’s scary. It’s scary to be a mostly healthy person who now can’t even walk 5 feet,” Lat said on Wednesday.
Lat, who had been experiencing fevers, a cough and other symptoms for days, went into an emergency room on March 15 and was admitted to NYU Langone Hospital on March 16. His hospital admission only came after, he said, a confusing battle to get tested for the coronavirus.
Lat and Shemtob have a 2½-year-old son, said Shemtob, who is 36.
One of the toughest parts of Lat’s illness, said Shemtob, is that he and Lat’s other family are not allowed to come to the hospital. Because of the transmittable virus, they can’t be with Lat as he continues to struggle with the illness.
Shemtob said that doctors had prescribed Lat a Z-Pak (azithromycin) and the anti-malarial drug chloroquine. They also were treating him with an IL 6-inhitbitor to fight the inflammation of Lat’s lungs.
“Please be vigilant and careful as possible,” Shemtob said, speaking for both himself and Lat. “It’s really important to get that message” across.