9/11 first responders at higher risk for coronavirus

Billie Rama
March 13, 2020 - 2:27 pm
9/11 search and rescue dog

(Photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- One of the groups at higher risk for coronavirus are 9/11 first responders.

Many of those first responders became ill from toxins at Ground Zero after the terror attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Many of them may have cancer, respiratory disease and compromised immune systems which make coronavirus more dangerous and possibly deadly, said Nick Papain, an attorney for the Uniformed Firefighter Association.

Papain told 1010 WINS the 9/11 medical program needs more resources, including the ability to do coronavirus testing.

"The problem is getting into the program," Papain said. "They are very backed up, they are short staffed. We have clients who have waited months - up to a year for an appointment. It's a great program. The challenge is getting into the program, getting treated."

As of Friday, there are 59 new cases in New York City, bringin the citywide total to 155, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"After weeks of waiting, NYS now has authority from the FDA to conduct #Coronavirus testing at 28 labs across the state. That will increase our testing capacity dramatically — from 3,000 to date to about 6,000/day starting next week," Cuomo tweeted.

Cuomo also addressed New Yorkers that will lose their jobs due to the coronavirus and announced that effective immediately, the state will "waive the 7-day waiting period for unemployment insurance for people who have been laid off due to virus."

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency for New York City.