It was just a spring cough, Anibal Ortiz thought as the coronavirus pandemic loomed and he conducted security scans on hundreds of people who came each day to the Harlem Community Justice Center.
It got worse — bronchitis, maybe, Ortiz figured — but he stayed on the job. “I was dealing with people while I didn’t have a mask or gloves,” he said.
People gave him looks. Take some cough medicine, someone said.
But people kept coming to the justice center, with their small claims cases and landlord-tenant disputes. Ortiz, 53, checked everyone, until his symptoms landed him in the hospital on March 20.
It was COVID-19.
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