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Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26 in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Go Nakamura, Getty Images)

Photographer Go Nakamura has visited a COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston about 20 times, but he never gets used to what he sees there.

Taking photos too graphic to share; seeing patients one day who will be gone when he returns later in the week — there’s no getting used to that, he told USA TODAY on Saturday.

But on Thanksgiving, Nakamura captured an image of compassion that has gained national attention as the United States reels under a record number of daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The photo shows Dr. Joseph Varon, clad in protective equipment, embracing a patient who has collapsed into his arms. 

In the moments before the photo was taken,