Lifestyle Health California Man Loses Most of His Fingers Due to Coronavirus: 'This Could Happen to You' One of the first COVID-19 cases in California, Gregg Garfield recovered — but needed to have almost all of his fingers amputated By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines Published on August 3, 2020 04:31 PM Share Tweet Pin Email After losing nearly all of his fingers due to complications from COVID-19, a California man is warning Americans to take the virus seriously. Gregg Garfield, 54, was one of the first COVID-19 cases in California after catching the virus in February during a ski trip with his friends to the Italian Alps. All 13 people in his group tested positive for COVID-19, but Garfield had the worst case, and doctors gave him a 1 percent chance of survival. “Medically speaking, I should not be here,” he told KTLA. “From MRSA, to sepsis, to kidney failure, to liver failure, pulmonary embolisms, burst lungs — four of them.” Known as “patient zero” at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Garfield was on a ventilator for nearly half of his 64-day stay at the hospital. “We would gage the success of his health and the little victories by knowing that the vent settings came down and he was breathing a little bit more by himself,” Garfield’s girlfriend, A.J. Johnson, said. U.S. Records Nearly 1 Coronavirus Death per Minute on Wednesday as Overall Toll Passes 150,000 He was able to leave the hospital — in a moment that went viral — in early May, but he needed to have all of the fingers on his right hand, and most on his left, amputated. “I’ve survived this. I’m doing fantastic,” Garfield said now, nearly three months later. “However, take heed on this. My hands are never going to be the same. I don’t have fingers anymore.” “I’m here to tell ya: This could happen to you,” he added to Inside Edition. “And there’s no rhyme or reason behind it.” Garfield and Johnson want people in the U.S. — and especially their home state of California, which is seeing record-breaking numbers of new COVID-19 infections — to be careful and wear masks. “It should not be political,” Johnson told KTLA. “We need to come together as humans.” Three-Quarters of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later, Study Finds Garfield will soon undergo at least six surgeries to reconstruct his fingers, and will likely get a prosthetic to fit over his right hand. While his $2 million hospital bill was covered by insurance, his prosthetic is not, and his brother is raising money for Garfield's medical expenses on GoFundMe. And despite the circumstances of his lost fingers, Garfield responded “hell yeah” after Johnson asked if he’ll hit the slopes again. “Assuming coronavirus allows us to,” she added. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.