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Thanksgiving, Fly

Meet the ICU doctor who is going viral for embracing a COVID-19 patient

Dr. Joseph Varon has worked more than 250 consecutive days during the pandemic.

11/30/2020 7:24:00 PM

'He's in a room where he knows nobody.' Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, was on his 252nd consecutive day working during the coronavirus pandemic when he took time to comfort a patient on Thanksgiving Day.

Dr. Joseph Varon has worked more than 250 consecutive days during the pandemic.

"He was very sad because he's in a room where he knows nobody," Varon told"Good Morning America" of the patient, who was not identified."We come in dressed like astronauts, and even though I usually have my picture with me so they can know who I am when I go to see them, it's very frustrating for the patients, and he was very emotional."

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"And just when I heard [his emotion], I hugged him," Varon added.Go Nakamura/Getty ImagesDr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 ICU Thanksgiving Day at the United Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 26, 2020, in Houston.Varon said the journey of fighting COVID-19 has been taxing not just for patients, but for medical staff like himself. He described working around-the-clock, day after day to care for patients.

MORE: Nurses, doctors use social media to plead for public to take COVID-19 seriously as cases surge"My days can be 16 hours ... and then when I get home, I get a million phone calls in the middle of the night," he said."When I leave my home, I tell my wife, '[I'll] see you,' but I don't know when or what time. Sometimes I don't come back home the same day."

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday,according to the COVID Tracking Project. Current COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up nearly every day since Oct. 25.As the number of cases and hospitalizations continues to rise, Varon said he is particularly frustrated by people not practicing COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a face mask and social distancing.

MORE: The story behind this touching message from a COVID-19 patient who was recently discharged from an intensive care unit"We're frustrated because we see people, they come in very, very sick and when you ask them, 'How did you get [COVID-19]?,' they basically tell you that they didn't follow any of the things that we've been asking them to please follow -- no social distancing, no wearing masks, going to large gatherings," he said."And then just coming to us near death."

Read more: ABC News »

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How nice of him to do! Awwww fear porn Flo_rinse That is approximately 8 ~ EIGHT MONTHS WITHOUT a day off..from work. Quit bitching about HIPAA, masks & 3-week closures & do what ya gotta do so medical folks can have a damn day off from work! I bet not many of you would appreciate 8 straight months w/out a day off from work!

You can't see the person's face nor was a name given. So HIPPA at this point was not breached. Touching moment. CowboyEducation 😥😓 This is sad that we r in this crisis. Blame trump and his staff at the white house. We should back up every nurse, doctors, & all staff workers & those the essential workers in the hospitals across the nation. Shame on GOP FOR LETTING TRUMP DO THIS!! Not DOING THEIR JOB!

stanspak Most of us have no idea of the sacrifice the doctors, nurses, paramedics etc have been making & most can't appreciate how much we all owe these wonderful people. I stand in awe of their dedication and service. So so deadly but we have time to waste along with PPE. And whose fault is it that he’s alone! Fauci and the evil left!

Wear your masks people. We certainly are Blessed to have physicians, like THIS wonderful man.. My GOD'S BLESSINGS follow HIM ALL THE DAY'S OF HIS LIFE! ✝️🙏✝️ Hopewenttodie This breaks my heart. JosephVaron You're beautiful. 🕊🤗❤ If the non-maskers could find one iota of inspiration and compassion anywhere, this should be it. 😪

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ My father died this year, not of COVID, just a natural beautiful death,at home, at age 97. I broke when I saw this picture. I am so thankful my dad did not have to experience this. My heart goes out to everyone who lost their parent this way. God bless him. So a photographer was just walking around a hospital took this picture and said “yes! I’m going to exploit this old mans pain for money” just more proof journalists don’t give a fuck about anything other than profit and worse off you all willfully eat it up

yumikosakuma 現代の「ピエタ像」。 Omg, that breaks my heart. My thoughts and compassionate prayers and meditations go out to both. And to both of you: We see you. We care. We care so much. And the anti-maskers can look themselves in the mirror each day? Unreal. God, this photo is just heartbreaking ❤️🙏🏽 bames_jrolin Kindness is beautiful. WearAMask

Am guessing Fox News might say this is fake. They'll start saying dead bodies are fake. They'll forget what the color blue is. God bless you and all healthcare workers-praying that God gives you strength and keeps you safe !🙏🏻 You are not going to change our minds about what you really are. Thank you Dr Joseph Varon. Please do take good care of yourself ❤️

My favorite picture of all times patton_amye No one should have to go through what these patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers go through. What Trump did when this pandemic hit was straight out of Hell. My feelings toward him and the Republican Party make me sick. There must be someyhing they can charge him with.

Now do videos of the 10's of 1000's of recovered patients back home doing what they usually do? Who’s shooting these pictures I thought hospitals were for sick people not “journalist” fueling your guys propaganda nelliebranco My heart is broken. Bless this poor soul and all those like him. 💔 God Bless you doc. All people being affected by the virus. It didn't have to happen this was. Wish we could make all anti maskers, covid conspiracies, socialites spend a week working with you.

❤️💔 CJ_isnowblue How many fxking levels of wrong is this? Never had to be this way Heroes amongst us. This breaks my heart! 😢 A true hero. 🇺🇲 A very heartbreaking time in our world. 😥 That has to be tough on both of them. Bless them. All I can do is just keep on trying to exhale. God Bless you Dr Varon!

As long as I live, I remember him. And the medical stuffs. 💔💔🙏🏼😢🙏🏼 This doctor is a true human being, one with compassion, and empathy. These pictures and stories are heartbreaking. We are indebted to these healthcare workers who are risking their own lives. This is why you wear a mask!!!!! God bless him!

katiecouric 🙏😪⚘💐 Breaks my heart I am so propaganda weary Hero Never knew a hospital that let people roam the halls taking pictures and videos. Nice but Staged pic for sure. salute Awesome that a photographer conveniently is allowed in while the family isn't. God love them please! Just breaks my heart. Thank God for all the dr's and nurses and all medical staff. Come on America wear ur mask to stop this from happening.

AVestige1 And the doctor is.........English isn't his first language and he may be Arabic. Showcase these immigrants for a change not what Trump wants everyone to see and believe. PR stunt at its finest 💓💓💓 COVID IS REAL. If you think COVID is a hoax, there’s something incredibly wrong with your heart, mind & soul. I genuinely hope you never learn the hard way that it’s real. Thank you Dr. Joseph Varon for your work & spending 256 days straight at a hospital treating COVID patients!

Prayers What a hero. Time person of the year? Thank Trump and the republicans in congress So WONDERFUL. God bless him God love you all! Hold China Accountable These are our people and our soldier and citizen, Americans! We are losing this war one person at a time. Please help, mask, distance,stay home,whatever just help. This could be your personal family join the fight this is heartbreaking for anyone. Please help fight covid

omg... and a camera was just right there? and another medical staff should have known that would violate hipaa rules. i smell fishy fishy... Such a heartfelt photo. I feel for this patient . This is a precious picture and should go viral ! 😥 All the anti-mask assholes should look at this picture JohnH1Rivera

TheKingCenter WHEN realDonaldTrump SAID HE COULD “shoot someone on 5th Avenue and I wouldn’t lose a supporter” THIS IS WHTA HE MEANT. THIS IS WHAT WE FUXKING MEANT. HE IS NOT SEEING THIS LIKE THE REST OF US AND WONT SEND YOUR OWN TAX MONEY TO YOUR FAMILIES AID. TheKingCenter realDonaldTrump THIS IS WHAT YOU DID. We were the most prepared country on earth and you are killing us and our families. This is heartbreaking and trump supporters would rather die than admit trump is killing them.

Heartbreaking. katiecouric TimeMagazineYas this is your person of the year. Thanks to our amazing hard working president we now have a vaccine that is being shipped to Chicago today. Yet another historic accomplishment by this administration. Well done! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Humanity Similar story here, too. THANK You Nurses & Doctors!

I love this man. Thank you for comforting the patient. So heartbreaking . Completely Trump's fault. Now comes the Trump amerikkka won't wear a mask cult members claiming that this is ' Photoshops the Democrats do to offend us!! Boycott georgia!' monicarhor 💔💔🥲 Look at the absolute hopelessness in that doctors eyes 🥺

katiecouric This is disgusting that these people are alone. Wake tf up America and see what is going on. katiecouric This is heart-wrenching...the saddest All those that think this is a hoax or nothing but the flu need to open their damn eyes! So sick of THEIR FREEDOMS and not worrying about others LIVES!

We need so much more of this.❤️ Time picture which defines what most will remember of 2020 This picture is powerful Where’s the HIPAA law when you need it to protect patients from news’ photo ops? Tears... this Dr represents the best of America. this man, all alone, represents the leadership failure of a lying, petty, small man & the GOP that defends him

This makes my heart so sad, for both of them. This pretty much says it all in one image. 😢 Donald Trump, can you look at this for one minute? Just one F*ck*ng minute? Sober. Dr. Thank you for your service. But COVID19 doesn't exist... That's why POTUS isn't doing anything about it ❤️🙏 BRAVO ! Doctors and nurses are saints💕

Beautiful compassion med workers need to show themselves 2.Working in hi stress wo breaks is untenable.Take breaks!Until their’s leadership to cue +behavior that includes the needs of those that have expertise to care for us, ppl will die.Can’t afford to lose med staff.Plz rest. he is not a hero or an angel he is just plain a true, merciful and honorable man. Thanks for your presence.

🥲 💘 😢😢😢 Wow what a man. I gripe if I'm put on more than 5 days on the bounce in my job. What this man must have seen every day will stick with him forever. Humbled that there are men like this in the world. Thank you. Heros Then let his family in to see him. It is their decision! It makes me sick that our government, the Trump administration has done nothing but deflect, distract, delay and misinform America on this deadly virus.

Heartbreaking. maskup Thank you is not enough Why do you keep posting this same story? its been at the top of my feed for weeks. 😢