9/11 First Responders and COVID-19
July 12, 2022 | World Trade Center
According to a new study, over half of 9/11 first responders with coronavirus also develop the mysterious and disabling condition known as Long COVID.
Researchers found that responders with chronic diseases have more infection severity and long-term sequelae than responders who do not have chronic diseases resulting from WTC exposures.
“Our findings point toward the need to monitor these chronically ill patients who contracted the infection even more closely,” says lead author Benjamin Luft, director of the Stony Brook WTC Health and Wellness Program.
“Long COVID was very common especially in those individuals with chronic conditions with more severe infection symptoms.
In fact, 57 percent of WTC responders with symptoms severe enough to cause hospitalization had persistent COVID symptoms,” added co-author Sean Clouston, associate professor in the department of family, population and preventive medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine and Program in Public Health.
Most people who contract coronavirus recover within three weeks.
But for millions of Americans, the virus seriously damages their lungs, brains, and other vital organs. Therefore, symptoms persist for several months, or even longer. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
- Joint pain,
- Chest pain,
- Memory, concentration or sleep problems,
- Muscle pain or headache,
- Fast or pounding heartbeat,
- Loss of smell or taste,
- Depression or anxiety,
- Orthostatic hypotension (dizziness when standing), and
- Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities.
Individually and over a short period of time, these symptoms might be little more than annoying.
Collectively and over a longer period of time, they can be debilitating.
Long COVID has indirect effects as well. Blood clots are a good example.
COVID-19 often causes small blood clots to form in capillaries (very small blood vessels) in the heart. These clots could cause heart disease. On a somewhat related note, COVID-19 can weaken blood vessels and cause them to leak.
Such leaking contributes to potentially long-lasting problems with the liver and kidneys.
The scary thing is that many long COVID symptoms are still unknown, as research is ongoing. So, no one knows for sure how this virus affects the body over the long haul.
Understandably, much of the attention in this area has focused on mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
As the Twin Towers went up, workers sprayed about 5,000 tons of asbestos onto the steel superstructure.
All of this asbestos was below the 40th floor. So, as emergency responders climbed the stairs that day, as the building crumbled, they breathed in toxic fibers.
Additionally, these microscopic fibers are small enough to absorb directly through the skin.
The thick smoke which blanketed much of Lower Manhattan contained more than asbestos.
Other toxic particles, such as chromium, mercury, and cadmium, were in the air as well. These particles could cause brain cancer and other such maladies. The body cannot naturally dispose of such particles.
Therefore, they accumulate, causing metallosis (metal poisoning). This condition not only causes tumors to form. It also damages internal organs.
Toxic smoke not only alters body chemistry. It also triggers long-term breathing problems.
These fumes burn the lungs and cause scar tissue to develop. Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) is one of the most common resulting illnesses.
Symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, and fatigue make it almost impossible to function at work, home, or anywhere else.
Viral infections, like pneumonia, coronavirus, and bronchitis increase the risk of popcorn lung. If the 9/11 smoke mildly damaged Sarah’s lungs and she contracts coronavirus, the infection could push her over the edge, medically speaking, and she could develop a serious breathing condition.
In other words, the major 9/11 illnesses are connected. That’s one reason many experts believe that 9/11 victims will continue to surface for many decades.
This interconnection also explains the Long COVID connection. It’s widely known that people with pre-existing conditions, such as mild breathing problems, suffer more when they get coronavirus.
Options for 9/11 Victims
Usually, the fight for injury compensation is a legal battle that occurs in the courthouse.
This time, the fight was a legislative battle that took place in the statehouse. In both these venues, our New York personal injury attorneys help lead the charge for victims’ rights.
Initially, lawmakers were willing to open their checkbooks for injured 9/11 first responders.
That’s especially true since most initial responder injuries were somewhat mild trauma injuries, like accidental falls. These injuries usually involve relatively low medical bills and relatively favorable outcomes.
The next wave of injuries usually involved the aforementioned cancers, breathing ailments, and other chronic conditions.
These illnesses are much more expensive, and frequently, fatal.
So, a team of advocates, including Paul J. Napoli and some other prominent team members, convinced lawmakers to pass the 2010 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The Zadroga Act not only extended the time deadline for 9/11 victims to obtain compensation. It also expanded the original class definition, so more victims are eligible for benefits.
Victim compensation fund Plan Administrators can be tight on the purse steinfs.
Additionally, if a 9/11 victim has an indirect illness, like long COVD, the case is complex. These things underscore the need for an experienced attorney. Only such representation guarantees maximum compensation for your serious injuries.
Victims of direct and indirect 9/11 injuries are entitled to compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC.
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