Last week, while New York waited to see if reports about an anonymous patient at Mount Sinai Medical Center was the start of an Ebola virus outbreak in the U.S., the man who was dubbed "Patient Zero" was learning of his condition on CNN from the emergency room.
Eric Silverman, a 27-year-old Brooklyn graduate student who returned from doing four months of humanitarian work in Sierra Leone last month, is the man who was quarantined at Mount Sinai Medical Center after a quick onset of symptoms similar to those who suffer from the Ebola virus.
“Only when I woke up on Monday and they wouldn’t let me out of the room, I knew something was wrong,” Silverman told the New York Daily News, in an exclusive. “I saw people wearing these space suits and I realized they couldn’t rule out Ebola. They needed to quarantine me until they could confirm it wasn’t.”
In an oddly cool demeanor, Silverman joked with a friend via text message:
Eric: I have something crazy to tell you.
Zak: Hahaha something so crazy that you couldn’t wait until noon to share? Are you patient zero at Mount Sinai? I know you were the one to have contracted Ebola…
Eric: Yeah that’s me.
Zak: Haha, tough break, my man. Well you had a pretty good run. Not great, but pretty good.
Eric: Thanks, buddy.
Zak: Haha. What do you have to tell me, though? I mean, it couldn’t wait till after 8:30 so it has to be amazing.
Eric: I just told you. It’s not that amazing, kinda annoying.
Zak: Wait, what? Holy sh--. Are you ok? What’s going on? What are they saying? O jeez, Eric- I’m so sorry. Are they saying that your ok?
Eric: Yeah I’ll be okay. Just a precaution. I had a bad fever and diarrhea and so they freaked out when I said I was just in SL (Sierra Leone)
Zak: How are you feeling now?
Eric: Better, just the same symptoms tho. Obv keep this on the dl don’t want my name getting out.
Zak: Are you in the hospital?
Eric: I’m in a glass box.
Zak: You’re quarantined? How much longer do they need you for observation? I’m going to assume I can’t visit, huh? Haha
Eric: Yes only spacesuits are allowed inside They should know today My blood work is now in Atlanta.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared Silverman for Ebola, but it's still not clear what struck him so quickly.
“When Dr. Powell and the hospital president, David Reich, both walked into my room not wearing hazmat suits, I knew then I was clear!” Silverman told the Daily News. “This was definitely an experience.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.