It’s been 19 years since the 9/11 terror attacks took the lives of 2,974 people, yet the death toll continues to rise as people who were at Ground Zero on that fateful day succumb to related illnesses.
Friday marks the anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on American soil in which 2,750 people were killed at the World Trade Center in New York, 184 died at the Pentagon and 40 more died in Pennsylvania.
More than 400 New York firefighters and police officers were among the dead.
According to the CDC, 3,946 of the more than 105,000 members of the World Trade Center Health Program, which supports first responders and survivors at Ground Zero during and after the attacks, have died.
That exceeds the number of lives lost in the actual attacks.
Though it is unclear how many have died directly from illnesses related to 9/11, Newsweek reported that at least 18,000 of the total members have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer.
Last year, officials at the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and WTC Health Program told the Seattle Times that the number of people who died from 9/11-related illness was likely close to 2,100 at the time.
“Almost two decades later, many responders and survivors still suffer the long-term health effects, both physically and mentally,” stated Dr. John Howard, administrator for the program, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Their resolve and health are now being further tested by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The WTC Health Program says the official number of 9/11 first responders and survivors who have died of the coronavirus is 42, but officials say the actual number is likely greater.
On Wednesday, the New York City Fire Department added 27 firefighters to the list of those who have died of related illnesses, bringing the total number who died after the attacks to 227, reported WABC.
“Some WTC-related health conditions can take many years to develop,” Howard said. “With each passing year, it becomes more imperative that those that may be eligible for the World Trade Center Health Program learn about how to enroll. It is not too late.”