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Corky Lee out of ICU, but still hospitalized for COVID-19

Corky Lee. Photo by Jason Jem via Facebook

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Corky Lee, who’s dedicated his entire career to documenting the Asian American experience through photographs, is hospitalized and recovering from COVID-19.

Lee entered Long Island Jewish Hospital in Forest Hills east of New York City on the 7th of January. He had complained of flu like symptoms just days earlier. By the 11th, his condition worsened and doctors ordered him transferred to intensive care.

A close friend described his condition on Monday and Tuesday as “really iffy,” but on Thursday doctors transferred him out of ICU. He remains hospitalized in a COVID ward.

“You may be assured that he is fighting this Covid battle with the same zeal and commitment he has brought to the documentation of the history, struggle and dreams of the AAPI communities which have been and remain his inspiration and mission,” said his brother John on Facebook. “We look forward to his return to health and once again to ‘talk story’. Thank you one and all!”

As news spread of Lee’s condition, his friends began rallying behind him.

E Samantha Cheng

Filmmaker and executive producer of the Heritage Series, Samantha Cheng, organized a Facebook campaign to insure that Lee could get rest after leaving the hospital without worrying about going to work. In just a few days, it surpassed its $10,000 goal and raised more than $36,000.

“I wanted to make sure he had enough money in his bank account so he wouldn’t have to climb up that lamp post to get that one shot so he can sell it to somebody,” explained Cheng. “The whole intention of the fundraiser is to make sure during his recovery he doesn’t have to climb up that lamp post.”

Cheng expressed fears that after Lee gets out of the hospital he will be challenged emotionally, physically and mentally. She hopes the tremendous response to the fundraiser will cheer him and assist him emotionally with his recovery.

Many Chinese Americans descended to the Golden Spike National Historic Site in this 2014 reenactment of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The original photo excluded the Chinese railroad workers. Photo by Corky Lee

The money will go directly into Lee’s bank account and Cheng said she would not even have to touch the money.

RELATED: Corky Lee: In Pursuit of Photographic Justice

“As Corky’s brother, I want to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to all contributors to his recovery fund and for your prayers and wishes and affirmations for his recovery,” John Lee said.

Corky remains on a respirator to help him with his breathing, but fortunately he has not had to go on a intubated.

The family requests that friends not call Corky so he can rest. You are encouraged to email or text him.

“I have been a big fan of Corky’s since I met him,” said Cheng. “He and I have always had an affinity in our work. Unconditionally he has supported all of my projects and I have supported all of his. It’s a mission that is very dear close to our hearts.”

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