It has been almost a year since the coronavirus first swept through the U.S., and although a vaccine appears to be on the horizon, the fact remains that the health crisis has taken a heavy toll on the 9/11 community. Hundreds of first responders and survivors have died of COVID-19. Hundreds more have contracted more-severe-than-usual cases of the virus and pulled through. Still more are struggling mentally with the effects of quarantine.
Earlier this year, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the community was robbed of the ability to connect in person with other survivors and families as the memorial events were cancelled or moved into a virtual environment. While these actions were necessary to protect everyone’s physical health, they may have exacerbated the anxiety and depression already afflicting many in the community. “Because of the pandemic, because events are being canceled, many of them just feel like the walls are closing in on them and they need to worry about their mental health,” 9/11 first responder John Feal told CBS News in an early September interview.
Most members of the 9/11 community worry constantly about getting cancer because of the toxins they were exposed to that day. The pandemic has only added to that already crippling stress. Feal gave voice to this double worry when he told CBS, “We’re all looking over our shoulder going, ‘When are we getting cancer?’ Now, we’re looking over our should going, ‘My Lord, when am I going to get cancer or when am I going to get COVID or when am I going to get both?’”
As the pandemic drags on into winter, we remain hopeful that effective vaccines will become available as quickly as possible so 9/11 survivors and responders, along with the rest of the world, can finally emerge from this pandemic.
Barasch & McGarry is a New York law firm the represents 9/11 responders and survivors around the U.S. We help our clients utilize available health programs and get compensation for 9/11-related illnesses. If you are a firefighter, medic or anyone else wanting to know about all the 9/11-related health programs available to you, please call 888-351-9421 or contact us online for a free consultation with our team.