The Christ the Redeemer statue towered over Rio de Janeiro in a doctor's white coat on Easter Sunday, as a tribute to health care workers who put themselves at risk every day to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The striking scene included messages of thanks in many languages, along with images of nurses and doctors smiling in protective gear.
The word "hope" was also projected onto the statue, along with the Portuguese phrase Fique Em Casa or "Stay at Home" — the motto of medical workers around the world who are urging people to follow social restrictions to slow the outbreak of new coronavirus cases.
Nurses, doctors and other health care workers have emerged as heroes during the pandemic, as they cope with massive influxes of new patients and fight to save lives. And due to prohibitions on hospital visitors even for patients who are on the verge of death, medical staff are now, more than ever, a conduit between those patients and their loved ones.
The acclaim for medical workers ranges from nightly rounds of cheering and applause to community-led efforts to deliver pizzas and other food to hospitals and emergency room staff.
Around the U.S. — which has more than 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases — people have been finding ways to express their gratitude for EMTs, nurses and other essential workers.
In Lowell, Mass., a teenage girl recently asked her father — who owns a gas station — to mark her birthday by giving free gas to medical workers. A Michigan man had the same idea, holding up a sign offering to pay for nurses' gas last week. And in Los Angeles, a roster of charities is directing donations to bring food from local restaurants to hospital staff. Similar efforts are underway in other communities, as people look for ways to thank workers on the front line of the health emergency.
Sunday marked at least the second time the Christ the Redeemer statue has been used to highlight the coronavirus crisis. Last month, the landmark was lit up with the flags of countries affected by the deadly respiratory virus, culminating in an image of the world.
Brazil's Ministry of Health is reporting 22,169 coronavirus cases, including at least 1,223 deaths.
Brazil is one of 14 countries that are reporting at least 22,000 cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a COVID-19 dashboard created by Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering, which reports coronavirus numbers in near real time.