A photo of health care professionals on a plane bound for New York is getting a lot of love online for its inspiring message.
The photo, posted by Southwest Airlines on its Instagram page, shows almost 30 health care professionals from Georgia, smiling and making heart symbols with their hands as they posed for the camera. A number of them were wearing personal protective gear such as surgical masks and gloves.
The group is boarded on a flight to La Guardia Airport in New York to assist amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Despite knowing that a greater battle lies ahead of them, these modern-day heroes remained in good spirits. The image, taken by an employee of the airline named Dayartra E., was captured right before the plane left the gate in Atlanta.
Other customers were also with them on the flight, according to a spokesperson for the airline.
“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,” the airline wrote in the caption.
“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.”
The airline ended the post with praises for all the health care professionals who are in the frontlines doing their part to fight this virus.
“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.”
Southwest spokesperson Derek K. Hubbard spoke about the now-viral photo to TODAY in an email.
“According to our crew, these 29 healthcare workers were in good spirits and wanted to do their part to help those in need. Our crew thanked them for their service and sacrifice and wished them well on their journey ahead.”
The flight crew didn’t know there were so many health workers heading out to New York until they were on the plane, Hubbard told CNN.
The photo comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took to Twitter to make a public plea asking health care professionals who are not facing a crisis in their own communities to come to New York.
“If you are not busy, come help us, please,” he said. “We’ll return the favor.”
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country; over 1,000 of its residents have succumbed to the virus as of Monday afternoon. Hospitals in the state are struggling to accommodate the influx of patients coming in daily. Cuomo requested “all hands on deck” in the state, bringing in more healthcare staff and much-needed medical supplies.
There are no words to describe how lucky we are to have selfless people in our midst. These healthcare professionals could have chosen to stay safe in their own communities; instead, they volunteered to go where the epicenter of the battle is. We can only hope that each one of them stays safe.