Jerry Coleman, a third-generation coal miner, worked for 37 years, mostly underground, near Cabin Creek, West Virginia. But at 68 years old, he has complicated black lung disease, meaning, his lungs are permanently and irreversibly scarred by coal dust.
“Black lung, it doesn't get better, it gets worse,” Coleman said.
Black lung is in a way, a death sentence -- the lungs gradually deteriorate until the person can no longer breathe.
And in the middle of a pandemic, it is only more complicated, Coleman said. He is also the president for the Kanawha County Black Lung Association.