Everyone in New York City has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, but the 9/11 first responders who were exposed to toxic substances near the World Trade Center site have an additional reason to worry. Like the illnesses that afflict workers and others who were in Lower Manhattan in the weeks and months after September 11, 2001, the coronavirus can inflict devastating damage on the respiratory system.
Several potential links exist between the current COVID-19 threat and the health issues facing firefighters, police officers, EMTs and World Trade Center first responders, such as:
- Respiratory problems —The coronavirus is known to attack individuals with compromised respiratory systems. Accordingly, it is critical that first responders take every possible precaution to avoid catching the virus. In addition to sheltering in place and wearing a mask while outside, some 9/11 heroes have chosen to leave New York City temporarily to lessen the likelihood of exposure.
- Emotional stress — Even New Yorkers who were nowhere near Ground Zero have likened the overwhelming challenge of the coronavirus to their experiences following the 9/11 attacks. If you were at the World Trade Center at the time or worked on the pile afterward, the current crisis might trigger unpleasant memories or intense emotional stress. Even if you served as a first responder and have avoided significant health symptoms up until now, COVID-19 might have you concerned. It’s important to take care of your physical and mental health and to remember that medical monitoring is available, even if you’re not showing signs of illness.
- Lack of access to medical treatment — As waves of COVID-19 patients flooded New York City hospitals along with makeshift facilities in the Javits Center and Central Park, access for others needing medical assistance became limited. Even when people with other problems can get appointments, many are reluctant to do so for fear of contracting the coronavirus. For some first responders, telemedicine has filled the gap and the WTC Health Program is delivering prescription medication to patients’ homes.
Stay-at-home orders, social distancing and other measures designed to prevent the coronavirus from spreading can make anyone feel isolated. However, if you’re a World Trade Center first responder, you are never alone.
For nearly 20 years, the attorneys of Barasch & McGarry have helped 9/11 first responders secure the compensation they deserve after contracting respiratory illnesses and other diseases linked to their service at Ground Zero. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our New York attorneys, please call 888-351-9421 or contact us online.