Dozens of emergency first-responders and others who were stricken with underlying illnesses linked to their work around Ground Zero have suffered immensely from COVID-19, reports The Wall Street Journal.
More than 1,400 Sept. 11 responders have tested positive for the coronavirus and 44 have died, according to recent data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which tracks the long-term health of the more than 86,000 first responders. Nearly 200 have been hospitalized.
Roughly 400,000 New Yorkers were exposed to caustic dust and toxic pollutants in the 9/11 dust-and-debris cloud after the iconic twin towers of downtown Manhattan's World Trade Center fell in 2001.
The most common 9/11 illness was respiratory disease. Many responders are already on multiple medications for conditions related to working on the site.
"COVID attacks everyone, but the most vulnerable are those with respiratory illness who can't fight the virus," Michael Barasch, whose law firm represents thousands of 9/11 survivors, responders and victims' kin, told the New York Post recently. "It shouldn't surprise us that so many in the 9/11 community are getting COVID and are unable to fight it.
Brian Curley, a retired police officer who developed serious chronic sinus and respiratory conditions, skin cancer, and gastrointestinal problems from working daily for weeks at Ground Zero, caught COVID-19 in March.
He was read his last rites over the phone by his priest during a stay that lasted more than a week but survived.
"I spend more time in bed than I usually do," he said.
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