Photo goes viral showing ICU doctor embracing COVID-19 patient on Thanksgiving

The man buried his face in Dr. Joseph Varon's chest as the two shared a moment that captured a range of emotions.


A heartbreaking photo showing the emotional moment a doctor comforted a patient in the coronavirus intensive care unit on Thanksgiving is going viral.

Thursday marked the 252nd consecutive day of work for Dr. Joseph Varon at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. The physician, who was identified by the Getty photographer, wore full personal protective gear as he wrapped his arms around an elderly patient.

Dr. Joseph Varon comforted a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center on Thanksgiving. It was Varon's 252nd straight day of work.

The man buried his face in Varon's chest as the two shared a moment that captured a range of emotions, from fear and fatigue of the virus to the compassion and tireless work of health care heroes like Varon who have been working nonstop treating some of the most severe cases of the virus.

The photo struck a cord with people on Twitter.

"Thank God for these angels," one person wrote.

"So sad," another person said. "Bless both of them."

One day before the viral photo was taken, Varon appeared on CNN where he discussed the surge of cases in his hospital.

"For the last few days, we've had a steady increase in the number of cases," he said. "There is no question that patients are coming in ... sicker, because they are waiting longer to go to the hospital."

The doctor warned Americans to take the virus seriously and said the next few weeks will be critical.

"Unfortunately, my concern for the next six-to-twelve weeks is that if we don't do things right, America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history," he said. "My hospital is full. I just opened two new wings so that I can accommodate for the next few days because I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving."

Varon also talked about the emotional toll the virus is taking on him and his colleagues.

"My nurses in the middle of the day, they will start crying ... When they finish finally getting a patient in, they get a phone call from the ER that there is another patient that is being admitted," he said. "How have I done it? I don't know. I'm running out of fumes."