Marsha Krell is a clinical social worker. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, she has taken two leaves of absence from her job.

“I was not comfortable being there," said Krell, an East Syracuse resident. "I was terrified. And I said 'no I can’t be there.' So I went out for three months.”

What You Need To Know

  • Marsha Krell was diagnosed with respiratory illnesses after responding to the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan, so she is high risk for COVID-19
  • Krell has taken months off of work, because of the risks
  • There are victims compensation funds and a World Trade Center Health Program to help first responders and survivors

Krell deals with several respiratory diseases, so she’s especially nervous about contracting COVID-19.

“It’s tough, because the fact that you can’t breathe already and having this come along is just mindboggling," said Krell.

Her lungs have been deteriorating for nearly 20 years, Krell said. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, she went to Lower Manhattan with the Red Cross. Krell was a mental health care worker near Ground Zero and spent days breathing in toxic air.

“I just can’t do what I want to do anymore," said Krell. "I can’t walk so far. I can’t lift so much, just stuff that makes it difficult.”

That makes COVID-19 an even bigger threat to Krell. Attorney Michael Barasch wants Marsha and other survivors to know about the World Trade Center Health Program.

“You gave of yourself," said Barasch, a managing attorney at Barasch and McGarry. "And, as a result, because the government lied about the quality of air, you, like thousands of others of my clients, have suffered irreparable and permanent lung damage. I hear it in the way you’re coughing and struggling.”

Krell said she's thankful. Because of her job, she’s gotten two doses of the coronavirus vaccine and is planning to return to work next month. Krell is still waiting for a return to normal, including lunch with her son and regular workouts at the gym.