Photo of health care workers flying to help in New York goes viral
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A photograph of Georgia health care workers en route to New York to treat coronavirus patients has gone viral in recent days, with tens of thousands of Facebook and Twitter users sharing it and praising medical professionals.

The photo, taken by an Atlanta ramp agent, depicts several smiling health care workers making “heart” hand gestures as they prepare to depart for New York’s LaGuardia Airport on a Southwest flight Friday.

“These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own,” the airline wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “Their selfless sacrifice is a beacon of light during such a dark time in our world, and no amount of gratitude and praise would ever be enough.”

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“If it were easy, everyone would do it, but we know that is not the case,” Southwest added. “Thankfully, this group and countless others do it each day, and for that we are forever grateful and in their debt.”

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While so many of us continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows what is happening quite like our medical professionals. These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own. Their selfless sacrifice is a beacon of light during such a dark time in our world, and no amount of gratitude and praise would ever be enough. Because of their courage, our family, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, and more have a fighting chance. More than a dozen healthcare professionals from Atlanta answered the call this past Friday evening to serve in New York. This photo embodies it all: bravery, courage, and sacrifice. If it were easy, everyone would do it, but we know that is not the case. Thankfully, this group and countless others do it each day, and for that we are forever grateful and in their debt. So to all the first responders, medical professionals, healthcare workers, and anyone else on the front lines today and every day to keep us safe, thank you. #SouthwestHeart ( Southwest Employee Dayartra E.)

A post shared by Southwest Airlines (@southwestair) on

The photo was taken just before the plane pushed back from the gate, Southwest spokesman Derek K. Hubbard told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Both New York state and New York City have become major epicenters of the virus in recent weeks, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) providing daily updates.

Health care workers have reported that the city’s hospitals and health care facilities are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, with evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse establishing an emergency field hospital in Central Park. Another temporary hospital at the city’s Javits Convention Center is also in the works.

The state had more than 59,000 cases of the virus as of Monday morning and nearly 1,000 deaths. President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE last week suggested he was considering imposing an “enforced quarantine” on the tri-state area before deciding to issue a travel advisory.