In the aftermath of Sept. 11, hundreds of newspaper cartoonists printed variations of the same drawing: Superman telling New York City firefighters that they are the real superheroes.

Over the past couple weeks, similar cartoons have appeared—this time identifying America’s health care workers as superheroes.

Last Thursday, Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoonist Mike Luckovich published a cartoon depicting doctors caring for patients of the coronavirus next to an Uncle Sam sign that reads, “I Thank You.”

Indeed, now is the time to recognize their sacrifice. The Oconee County Chamber of Commerceis asking for thank-you videos that it will broadcast online. Maria Reese of Watkinsville’s Definitely Handmade recently spearheaded a collection of homemade masks to donate to health care workers. The city of Watkinsville has issued an emergency provisional business license to hemp research company GaXtracts to manufacture and distribute medical-grade sanitizer and sanitizing spray. And last Sunday, citizens drove by Piedmont Athens Regional waving signs of support and appreciation. This “Caravan of Care” began, of course, with prayer. 

In addition to prayer, our doctors and nurses need donated supplies and personal protective gear.

Small, independent physician offices are in need of N95 respirator masks, said local health care worker Eli Rice. The N95 masks filter out 95 percent of particles in the air, according to the CDC.

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center will accept donated cloth masks to use with patients who enter emergency departments with respiratory symptoms when they are placed in the COVID-19 rule-out group. People can contact Community Relations Manager Elaine Cook at Elaine.Cook@piedmont.orgfor donations of masks and supplies. 

Both Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Care System have created COVID-19 response funds to assist with drive-through testing at the Oconee Health Campus and the purchasing of medical equipment, masks, ventilators, nebulizers, protective clothing and other items.

St. Mary’s cannot accept medications, food from non-commercial kitchens, blankets, clothing or homemade isolation gowns. Restaurants who would like to donate meals to health care workers or for those who would like to purchase cafeteria vouchers for hospital staff, contact the St. Mary’s Foundation at Foundation@stmarysathens.org. The Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation Team can be reached at athensfoundation@piedmont.org.

Remember, we are all in this together. We can help from a distance. As Chuck Cunningham’s cartoon said last week, “We all gotta come together and stay apart.” 

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