The photo shows dozens of people, some wearing masks and gloves, holding their hands in the shape of a heart aboard a Southwest flight. It had been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, with many comments praising the health care workers for their bravery.
An Atlanta ramp agent took the photo of the health care workers, other passengers, and flight crew before the plane pushed back from the gate on Friday, Southwest Airlines spokesman Derek K. Hubbard said on Sunday.
There were about 30 health care professionals including nurses, all from Atlanta-area hospitals, who were on the regularly scheduled flight to LaGuardia Airport, Hubbard said.
"These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own," Southwest Airlines wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. "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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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