COVID-19 and 9/11
Contributor(s): Shannon Montgomery
It is now common knowledge that individuals with pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and as a result, have a more difficult time combatting and overcoming the virus. These pre-existing conditions include chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and obesity. Furthermore, the CDC has recently updated their guidance to reflect recent data supporting an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to include cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and asthma. 
This creates major concerns for members of the 9/11 community including first responders and survivors, who most, if not all, have been diagnosed with a medical condition which falls within one of the aforementioned categories. Currently, there are over 100,000 responders and survivors enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which provides healthcare and pharmacy benefits for certified 9/11-related health conditions.
As a representative of 9/11 clients for the last 10 years, I know from speaking with my clients that concern for their health is one of their biggest fears and for most, their number one priority today. According to the CDC, there are over 29,000 members certified for respiratory conditions, including asthma, COPD, and chronic respiratory disorder. Additionally, there are over 18,000 members certified for cancer.
Furthermore, COVID-19 does not only affect people with pre-existing physical conditions, it can also have a serious impact on those with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
“Fear of the virus and all the changes it is causing are driving anxiety levels up for everyone, but for people who have an anxiety disorder it’s so much worse,”Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine.
Most of the 9/11 community have compromised immune systems as a result of their diagnoses, and also suffer from mental health conditions, and should be taking all precautions necessary in order to avoid contracting this disease. Fortunately, the WTC Health Program has taken several steps to ensure that program members are able to continue to receive monitoring, treatment, and other authorized services for their certified WTC-related conditions during this challenging time, including expanding telehealth, implementing in-person safeguards, and utilizing home delivery for prescriptions.
We at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm hope that all of our clients remain healthy and safe during this unimaginable time!
– Shannon Montgomery, Esq., Partner – Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm
 See CDC Update October 6, 2020 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fgroups-at-higher-risk.html )
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