Early Wednesday morning, as the shift change was happening at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, rows of police cruisers, fire engines, and ambulances lined up outside the hospital with lights flashing as area first responders applauded arriving nurses and doctors.
The 6:30 a.m. event was organized by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, and multiple local news stations arrived to film the procession and the moving, heartfelt cheers — with some people holding up signs of gratitude.
Santa Clara Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Low tells KTVU he got the idea for the gesture from similar ones that have been occurring in New York City and elsewhere. And, throughout this unfolding crisis, Santa Clara County has claimed the highest number of cumulative coronavirus cases — though San Francisco is slowly catching up as Santa Clara's daily cases count slows. (As of Wednesday, San Francisco has 1,013 confirmed cases and Santa Clara County has 1,666.)
Officers from the Sheriff’s Department at the County of Santa Clara, San Jose Fire Department, San Jose Police...Posted by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Wednesday, April 15, 2020
As Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith tells ABC 7, "They come to work every day, they know the risks and this is just another way to say we really appreciate what you do every day for us."
One of the nurses at Valley Medical Center, Mernie Antonio, tells ABC 7, "We feel so appreciated and it just melt's our heart!"
Register Nurse Liya Liu tells the station, "I feel like we already won the battle. We are on the way to win the battle because we get the support."
Salutes like this are typically reserved for the funerals of fallen law enforcement, and this time it's an expression of gratitude for healthcare heroes instead.
A hero’s salute for medical staff at Santa Clara Valley Medical by countless first responders from all over the region. This just feels good. Beautiful story coming your on @abc7newsbayarea midday @ 11am. pic.twitter.com/tJp32deLY7— Julian Glover (@JulianGABC7) April 15, 2020
The scale of the sunrise salute was pretty huge — it included members of the San Jose and Santa Clara County fire departments, the Campbell Police Department, Gilroy Police Department, Los Altos Police Department, Milpitas Police Department, Morgan Hill Police Department, San Jose Police Department, San Jose State University Police Department, and California Highway Patrol.
According to a report by the CDC released Thursday, over 9,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States, and 27 have died so far.