A Call for Action: Protect and Provide for Healthcare Workers and First Responders amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

As Covid-19 spreads throughout New York City and to the rest of the country, our thoughts and prayers go out to those afflicted with this virus. Additionally, we feel an immense sense of gratitude to have such dedicated First Responders and Healthcare Professionals fighting this disease on the frontlines each day.

To that end, we feel a sense of responsibility to those people to remember their sacrifices beyond the applause and praise, which someday will not echo outside windows or in driveways when this pandemic is behind us.

For this reason, we are calling upon the Federal Government and New York State Legislature to enact protections for these individuals immediately:

  1. The establishment of a COVID-19 Fund to provide healthcare and compensation for those nurses, doctors, EMTs, Firefighters, and police officers on the frontlines of this pandemic.  No one can predict the longterm effects of this virus and thus, protections need to be put in place now.  It should be modeled after the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund that has an exemplary healthcare program and is run efficiently.  It should not require lobbying by the sick in years to come to achieve these reasonable protections; and
  2. An amendment to the Administrative Code for the City of New York to ensure that any condition or impairment of health caused by the COVID-19 virus, resulting in total or partial disability or death to a member of the uniformed force shall be presumptive evidence that it was incurred in the performance and discharge of duty.

One responding to emergency calls or caring for patients in need should not be concerned if their family will be looked after should this virus infect them and cause permanent injury or their death. Rather, those on our frontlines of this worldwide pandemic should rest assured that this Country and more particularly, this State, will ensure that future healthcare is available, that lost earnings will be recouped, that their pensions will be protected and that they and their families will be compensated in the event this virus takes hold of them.

In the first step of trying to accomplish this goal, on April 9th, 2020 SPBMCC drafted a letter to Governor Cuomo, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Maloney in hopes of starting the dialogue.

Read our Letter To New York’s Political Leaders

If on a mobile device, click here to view the full page version.

Documents and Timeline

Call For Action  – April 9th, 2020: Letter sent to Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer, Congresswoman Maloney and Governor Cuomo.

The Time For Actions is Now

Make no mistake about it – this virus not only puts our doctors, nurses, and first responders at risk, but also their families who they return home to each night. Applause and praise should continue for all of these First Responders and Healthcare Professionals, but it should be the beginning of the recognition and duty we have to these brave people. We must respond now, which is why we are calling upon the Federal Government and the State of New York

Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas and Cannavo has been General Counsel for the Uniformed Firefighters Association for nearly 40 years. We have seen firsthand the effects that exposure to toxins had on First Responders and those who lived, worked, or went to school in and around Ground Zero. After 343 firefighters perished on 9/11/01, First Responders digging through the debris were told that the air was clean and safe to breathe only to find out that while they searched through the rubble, they were ingesting carcinogens that would lay dormant for years only to resurface and threaten them. Children attending school, those working or living in the area, and other responders who assisted on the pile could not have anticipated the health effects that day would have on them years down the road.

We represented individuals in the first 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. When that closed in December 2003 and people were still getting sick, we brought Federal lawsuits for the protection of those whose conditions were not yet known when the original VCF closed. When those cases resolved in 2010, we played a leading role in having the Federal Government reopen the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in 2011. We were there in 2015 to help get the Fund extended another 5 years, and then permanently, in 2019, as more and more people were being diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses, including various cancers. To that end, we have represented more than 3,000 people who have suffered illnesses linked to their exposure to toxins in the aftermath of 9/11.

SPBMCC was part of a much larger group of individuals and organizations, such as the UFA, who fought tirelessly each step of the way for its Members. Indeed, it took First Responders taking countless trips to Washington DC, some on oxygen, some in wheelchairs, giving of themselves once again to look after the healthcare and safety of those afflicted with 9/11 related issues.

Why did it come to this?  Why must we put our First Responders and Healthcare workers through this same fight to provide that which is decent and right?

It is incumbent upon this nation to stand up and get this right now.  We will continue to advocate for the rights of those caring for our sick and protecting our citizens until those First Responders, Medical Professionals and their families are protected.

Contact Us

For Comment or media inquiries regarding our call for action on behalf of healthcare workers and first responders contact:

Thomas McManus