I-Team: Las Vegas artist recovering from COVID-19 shares powerful story

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas artist is still recovering from COVID-19 months after contracting the virus. One outlet he turns to? His work.

Neal Portnoy has called Las Vegas home for nearly five years.

“It’s the Entertainment Capital of the World,” he says.

Through his caricature art, Portnoy has become a verb.

“Have you been Portnoyed?” he questions.

One of Portnoy’s latest projects is yet to be unveiled at Allegiant Stadium.

“That’s a legacy,” he says, “that’ll be in that stadium forever.”

The 67-year-old’s legacy was on his mind more than ever in July during his battle with COVID. Words from a healthcare worker stay with him.

“She said to me, ‘you literally died twice,’” he shared.

Portnoy’s wife, Dorothy, also contracted the virus but had a more mild case. He ended up in the intensive care unit.

“People don’t realize how bad it is,” he said. “… It gets mentally in your head, you know. You’re not getting any help; you’re not getting any better. It’s scary. It is really scary.”

The artist credits the drug Remdesivir for saving his life.

Months later, he’s back in his studio.

“All done from photos,” he explains about his work. “The better the photograph, the better the final piece.”

Portnoy is still recovering after contracting pneumonia, followed by continued treatment for blood clots. He says he previously had no underlying health conditions, he and Dorothy took precautions, and he isn’t sure how they caught the virus.

But, he is grateful:

“What I went through, I am very blessed and one of the lucky ones cause I’ve survived COVID.”

The I-Team asked Portnoy if this has changed his outlook on life and priorities.

“Absolutely,” he affirms. “You know, I’ve got a second chance. I’m gonna do things that I would’t have done before.”

Dorothy follows, saying, “Life is very short. It’s very, very scary. And, uhm, you really need to not get upset over things that are really … don’t mean much.”

“You gotta get up every day, enjoy every day til its fullest,” Neal urges, “because we just don’t know.”


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