Josephine Mazzara watched her husband disappear into a Manhattan emergency room, unable to follow and uncertain when she would see him again.
Once inside, doctors quickly diagnosed Salvatore Mazzara with Covid-19. Soon, the 48-year-old’s lungs, kidneys and heart would give out. Doctors tried experimental drugs and tested other therapies in an effort to keep him alive. He was put on a ventilator and when its prolonged use posed a danger, they delivered oxygen directly through a hole cut in Mr. Mazzara’s throat.
He survived. But he didn’t leave the hospital for six weeks.
Covid-19 has proven a surprising disease, with some patients experiencing few or even no symptoms, and others succumbing to a deadly assault on organs, circulation and the immune system. Some, like Mr. Mazzara, hover in lengthy limbo in intensive care, often for weeks, among the sickest in the hospital and some of the most difficult to treat.
“We all know what to do almost all of the time,” said Robert Hiensch, one critical-care doctor who cared for Mr. Mazzara. “All of a sudden, you’re faced with hundreds and hundreds of patients where you’re all just learning on the fly.”