Coronavirus: New York man who spent 2 months in hospital returns to empty apartment

NEW YORK — A New York man who spent two months in the hospital with the coronavirus returned home to find the locks changed on his apartment, with only his piano and pet tortoise remaining inside.

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Ryo Nagaoka was found on the floor of his fifth-floor apartment Jan. 27 and taken to the hospital, where his condition eventually improved, WNBC reported.

He was moved to a rehabilitation center to regain strength in his legs. On Wednesday, he was released. He looked forward to returning to his home of two decades, only to find the locks were changed. When he finally was able to get inside, all that remained of his possessions were a piano and a pet tortoise, whose name in Japanese means “Mr. Turtle.”

“I saw the whole empty room, except the piano was there,” Nagaoka told WCBS. “Shocked and surprised. I was stunned.”

His apartment building is owned by investor Barbara Corcoran and former baseball player Alex Rodriguez, WNBC reported.

A spokesperson for Corcoran told WCBS Nagaoka gave the building superintendent permission to knock down the door the day he went to the hospital, and the locks were then replaced. The spokesperson said the only furnishing in the apartment was a soiled mattress, which was a health hazard and thrown away.

“Given how badly Mr. Nagaoka’s health had deteriorated, the state of his apartment had become a clear health hazard to the rest of the residents in the building,” Corcoran said in a statement, WNBC reported.

Building owners said they made attempts to locate Nagaoka before cleaning out the apartment three weeks after he was taken to the hospital, Gothamist reported.

“The few salvageable possessions were saved for the resident in hopes of his return,” according to an attorney’s statement.

Corcoran said the unit was fully renovated. A new stove and refrigerator were in the kitchen, the walls had been painted and holes in the ceiling repaired, WNBC reported. However, there still is no running water. That is expected to be restored on Monday.

Neighbors pitched in and gave Nagaoka a new mattress and other items. They also started a crowd sourced funding account which has raised more than $48,000 for him. Corcoran is one of the top donors.