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Corky Lee back in ICU battling COVID-19

Corky Lee is Honored by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association in 2019

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Friends of renowned photographer Corky Lee asked for prayers and positive vibes this week as the man widely regarded as the “Asian American photo laureate” struggles with the coronavirus.

On Saturday, doctors downgraded Lee’s condition and readmitted him into the intensive care unit. For the first time, Lee needs the assistance of intubation to breath.

AsAmNews delayed reporting on the latest developments to honor the wishes of some closest to him.

Lee first admitted himself into Long Island Jewish Hospital on January 7 after complaining about flu-like symptoms for several days. He spent four days in intensive care beginning on the 11th, but doctors quickly upgraded his condition.

Lee lives in the New York area, but his reputation knows no geography. He generously donates his photographic skills to organizations nationwide and has been honored by the Asian American Journalists Association, Organization of Chinese Americans and the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association. In 2017, plans were announced for a film about Corky Lee’s life.

Most recently he has focused attention on documenting the rise of anti-Asian hate, photographing protests and following the efforts of the Guardian Angels in New York to defend Asian Americans against bullying and harassment.

Photo by Corky Lee: Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa puts up poster in hopes of finding the culprit who attacked an Asian woman on a New York Subway last month

Friends say he’s been touched by the hundreds of cards and good wishes that have flooded his home. Close friend Karen Zhou says each week she gathers and delivers as many as she can to the hospital.

“We are thankful for the hospital staff for taking care of Corky. It’s not been easy on healthcare workers to work long shifts in the COVID ward and we must continue to show support and encouragement to them as well. Notes of appreciation to the doctors and nurses would also help too,” Zhou told AsAmNews.

A fundraiser for Lee’s medical care and rehabilitation needs organized by filmmaker Samantha Cheng on Facebook raised more than $45,000 in just a few weeks. She also launched a second fundraiser on Venmo. Contributions can be sent to [email protected].

RELATED: Corky Lee, In pursuit of photographic justice.

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