'We Can Get Through' Coronavirus Fight 'If Citizens Can Rally,' Doctor Says



“All the staff in the ER are a tight-knit group, looking out for each other,” he says. “If citizens can rally around what’s going on and stay safe by keeping their distance, we can get through this thing as a society.”

The idea of a team rallying together in the face of the pandemic is something Dr. Sylvie de Souza has also experienced as chair of emergency department at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

De Souza, 55, tells PEOPLE that she and her colleagues came together during a particularly stressful day for a moment of peace.

“I said to myself, ‘Look at all these amazing people.’ I felt like we needed something to encourage these troops at the front line,” she says. “I said, ‘Let’s all get into a circle’ — we were not touching — ‘and is there somebody here who is good at praying?’”

After an emergency-medicine resident volunteered, the group raised their hands as the resident “prayed for us to make the right decisions for our patients, for guidance and for the protection of us all.”

The prayer has become a daily occurrence, with about 10 to 12 people taking part.

“Everything passes and this too shall pass,” she says. “I think if we do the right thing, I think we can end this.”

Both Robey and de Souza stress the importance of social distancing, and both have words of gratitude for those looking out for healthcare professionals by doing things like donating supplies.

“I think that there are a lot of people that are trying to figure out ways to help, and that’s one of the ways,” Robey says. “That’s probably the best way to help right now, is to keep our paramedics, nurses and physicians safe as we move forward.”

As of Friday morning, there have been at least 244,228 cases and 6,257 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times.

  • Reporting by JOHNNY DODD and DIANE HERBST

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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