New Jersey's first COVID-19 patient has returned home, and credits a trial drug and two medications used to treat HIV for his recovery.

James Cai, 32, from Fort Lee, who first experienced symptoms on March 1 after attending a healthcare conference in Manhattan, went to an emergency room on March 2 and was admitted to Hackensack Medical Center on March 3. He told the New York Post that he was released on Saturday after 19 days in the hospital.

The physician's assistant earlier told ABC 7 Eyewitness News a CT scan at an emergency room showed a small lesion on his lung, which led to the COVID-19 test at Englewood Hospital. His condition only got worse as the condition spread through his lungs, Cai told ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

Cai told the Post he developed a lung fibrosis that could affect him for the rest of his life. For now, he told the Post, he sleeps with an oxygen machine hooked up and carries around a smaller version.

Cai told Post he credits his recovery to the drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, also known as the brand name Kaletra, which are normally used to treat HIV. He told the Post that had his doctors not reached out to doctors in China for help in treatment he would be "dead and gone."

His fever went down after the first dose and his symptoms improved over the course of four days, Cai told CBS New York.

Cai told the Post he is staying away from his family, including his 20 month old daughter, for another 2 months as a precaution.

Cai told the Post it was his family that contacted five Chinese doctors studying the COVID 19 in Wuhan City where it first affected people when doctors were treating the virus as bacterial pneumonia.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

New Jersey 101.5 FM logo
Enter your number to get the NJ 101.5 app

More from New Jersey 101.5

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM