19 years ago, the best and bravest among Americans rushed to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. Years later, the health consequences that these heroes have had to bear became increasingly clear. These first responders now say Covid-19 is posing a serious threat to everyone.
Michael Barasch, one of the lawyers who have continued to work with these heroes, told reporters that dozens of the first responders have passed away from the global pandemic.
This is because one of the most serious and long-lasting side effects that the first responders have been struggling with were respiratory diseases. With a weakened respiratory system and immune system, this makes first responders one of the most vulnerable to Covid-19.
Barasch said that the situation is not surprising but nonetheless still heartbreaking. Barasch’s law firm estimates that up to 98 of the first responders have died or are being suspected of dying from Covid-related diseases.
The lawyer added that the survivors of 9/11 are literally scared of their lives because they know it is unlikely they will make it through should they contract the virus. He also said the tragic deaths are likely to continue before the situation settles down.
To put a face to one of the many deaths that Covid has caused, one can look to the story of 69 year old Michael Hankins. As a first responder to the 9/11 attacks, Hankins spent weeks at an ad hoc morgue that was set up, identifying bodies with the faintest traces left.
It was during this time that Hankins met his wife Victoria Burton, who was doing the same work for the NYPD. Victoria remembered how her husband was healthy enough to serve as referees for sports games. Hankins passed away from the pandemic on April.
One can continue to name names and learn about the personal stories behind the victims. 72 year old Arthur Lacker passed away on April, after developing lung cancer for clearing debris from Ground Zero for over two years. Beatrice Granberg worked at a nearby office back in 2001.
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