They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But this one might just be worth a lot more.
A photograph from inside an ICU ward at a hospital in the United States has gone viral online for its simple, yet haunting gravitas.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages in America, a doctor shared the image of a quiet storeroom with a small army of iPads waiting for patients to FaceTime their loved ones goodbye.
“These are iPad stations being prepared for virtual ICU end of life visits by a palliative care doc I know. Jesus,” he wrote.
With coronavirus restrictions at hospitals, many Americans have been forced to say goodbye to their dying loved ones over the phone, or standing behind a glass window.
‘The part of Covid that horrifies me most’
The picture has been widely shared on social media after it was posted on Twitter on Friday morning (AEDT). Understandably, it struck a chord with many users.
“This picture chills me to the bone. So many wives who can’t hold their husband’s hand as he dies. So many kids who can’t hold the hands of their parents as they pass away. It didn’t have to be this way,” James Hohmann, national political correspondent for the Washington Post, said.
“This is the most dystopian thing I’ve ever seen and I go out of my way to absorb dystopian things,” said comedy writer Daniel Kibblesmith, who writes for late night host Stephen Colbert.
“This – the lonely death – is genuinely the part of COVID that horrifies me most. Not the worst part. But the part that makes me shudder,” Houston lawyer Raffi Melkonian remarked.
“This is what's it's come to. Shameful,” responded another Twitter user, who directed her comment at US president Donald Trump.
“For everyone complaining about having to watch movies from home, these are the last screens many people will see,” filmmaker Alex Winter wrote.
“Please stay home if possible, wear a mask and take the pandemic seriously. We're not out of the woods and a vaccine is not around the corner just yet.”
Many others who reacted to the photo online were more succinct in their horror.
“Holy s***,” more than one Twitter user said.
A San Francisco doctor likened the image to the way powerful photos from the Vietnam War educated the public during the time by showing the reality on the ground.
Wow. What an image.
Thinking now about the power of imagery. Much of the suffering caused by Covid-19 occurs behind closed doors. What if the public saw what is really happening? Like the powerful images that came out of the war in Vietnam, and spurred solidarity and action? 📸 https://t.co/9KUPpj0hLR
— Emily Silverman, MD (@ESilvermanMD) December 3, 2020
I’m all for tech, but there are some moments that can’t be replaced by it.
Good on them trying to give families something, but these shouldn’t be needed in the first place. https://t.co/hUUlfsA1Y7
— Nathan Bazley (@NathanBazley) December 3, 2020
US notches deadliest day of pandemic
Deaths from the novel coronavirus in the United States hit a record high of 3,157 in a single day on Wednesday (local time), obliterating the previous high of 2,603 set on April 15, when New York City was the epicentre of the country’s outbreak.
There were 2,977 victims in the September 11 terror attacks. The country is currently enduring the same loss of life every day due to the pandemic, with that number expected to keep rising.
Nationwide the coronavirus is blamed for more than 275,000 deaths and 14 million confirmed infections.
The number of Americans in hospital with Covid-19 also hit an all-time high Wednesday at more than 100,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The figure has more than doubled over the past month as many hospitals reach breaking point.
Meanwhile new cases per day have begun topping 200,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
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