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People with 9/11-related conditions are more vulnerable to 'long COVID,' study says

Transmission electron micrograph of particles of SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Transmission electron micrograph of particles of SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Tens of thousands of people have chronic conditions stemming from exposure to the World Trade Center site during 9/11 more than 20 years ago. A new report from Stony Brook University draws a connection between these conditions and vulnerability to longer, more severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Benjamin Luft is with the World Trade Center Health Program at Stony Brook.

“With the onset of COVID, when we began to have our patients reporting that they had the disease and we began to see them in the clinic, we found that those who had more severe World Trade Center-related conditions had more severe COVID," Luft said.

Those conditions range from respiratory issues to PTSD and acid reflux. Luft said those patients were also more likely to develop long-term COVID-19-related issues because of issues stemming from their 9/11 exposure.

“Their various organs have been compromised as a result of being down at the World Trade Center," Luft said. "Certain diseases which don’t seem to have any relationship to particular organ systems, such as depression, have a wide range of other consequences, such as increased inflammation or hyped-up immune system, and therefore they may be more likely to develop more severe disease.”

Luft said this shows it’s important for 9/11 first responders and other patients to take the same precautions any high-risk group would — like keeping up with their vaccines and getting appropriate treatment, like antivirals, if they do get infected.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.