A doctor and a distraught elderly patient were captured embracing over the Thanksgiving holiday in a touching moment.
With emotions running high, Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, did the unimaginable and hugged a patient suffering from COVID-19.
Varon was dressed in full PPE – including a face shield – to protect himself and his patient, who is currently in the hospital’s intensive-care unit.
Yahoo! notes that Varon has been working 251 days straight due to the pandemic. And he was on the front lines during the recent holiday as well.
“I am grateful to witness a wonderful moment and I thank all the medical staffs for their hard work even during the holiday season,” wrote photographer Go Nakamura, who shared his image on Facebook.
While the public is encouraged to social distance from others and limit gatherings, Varon doesn’t have the luxury as he’s supporting patients medically, physically, and emotionally.
Texas alone has recorded over 1,220,000 cases and 21,500 deaths in the past week.
The U.S. set several grim milestones on Black Friday. The number of Americans since Jan. 21 who contracted COVID-19 surpassed 13 million, and the number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. surpassed 90,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Varon told CNN that "America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history” if the nation doesn’t change course fast.
He also described a day in the ICU to the outlet, stating: "My nurses in the middle of the day, they will start crying, because they are getting so many patients, and it's a never-ending story. When they finish finally getting a patient in, they get a phone call from the ER that there is another patient getting admitted."
Varon’s somber warning echoes Dr. Anthony Fauci’s outlook for the remainder of the year.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believes fatalities from COVID-19 may climb to more than 300,000 by the end of 2020 if the pandemic’s trajectory doesn’t change.
“We’re now at over 250,000 deaths — a quarter of a million deaths. You could get well over 300,000 and close to even more than that if we don’t turn things around,” Fauci warned.
A few days before Thanksgiving, he said U.S. coronavirus infections are "really intense" right now and that avoiding holiday gatherings may lead to "more healthy, happy” ones in the future.