Southwest Airlines has shared an inspiring photo of a flight of medical workers travelling from Atlanta to New York to help with the state's COVID-19 relief.

Medical workers on board a Southwest Airlines flight bound for NYC
Healthcare workers in Atlanta prepare to fly to New York to help with the state's COVID-19 relief ©Southwest

New York has been one of the hardest hit states of the COVID-19 outbreak. With its healthcare system consumed by the crisis, workers have responded to a nationwide call from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for out-of-state doctors and nurses to help staff the state's most overwhelmed hospitals. Last Friday, almost 30 medical workers boarded Southwest Flight 979 in Atlanta bound for LaGuardia Airport to answer that call.

Before the flight took off, the crew, medical professionals and other passengers raised their arms in the air in the shape of a heart as a message of hope. The moment was captured by a Southwest employee who shared the image online.

''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,'' Southwest captioned the photo. ''These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own. 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.''

Southwest spokesperson Derek Hubbard said there were 29 nurses and doctors on board the flight, all from hospitals in and around Atlanta. According to Hubbard, the healthcare workers were in good spirits and wanted to do their job for those in need. 

''This photo embodies it all: bravery, courage and sacrifice,'' Southwest added. ''So to all the first responders, medical professionals, healthcare workers, and anyone else on the frontlines today and every day to keep us safe, thank you.''

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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