Chronically Ill WTC Responders Face Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19

FRIDAY, June 17, 2022 — World Trade Center (WTC) responders who suffer from exposure-related chronic conditions also face an increased risk for worse COVID-19 outcomes, including long COVID, according to a study published online June 7 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Elizabeth Lhuillier, M.D., from Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues assessed whether conditions resulting from WTC exposures are associated with increased COVID-19 disease severity. The analysis included 1,280 WTC responders with health outcomes data collected prior to and following COVID-19 infection.

The researchers found that COVID-19 severity was associated with age, Black race, and obstructive airway disease (OAD), as well as with worse self-reported depressive symptoms. The presence of postacute COVID-19 sequelae was associated with COVID-19 severity, upper respiratory disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, OAD, heart disease, and worse depressive symptoms.

“Our findings point toward the need to monitor these chronically ill patients who contracted the infection even more closely,” a coauthor said in a statement. “They all suffer from various chronic conditions brought on by exposures at the WTC site. This study alerts us to even more problems they may face in the future.”

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