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National Doctors' Day takes on a whole new meaning

Amid all the struggles the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, doctors have dedicated themselves to keeping others safe.
Credit: AP
Dr. Rita McGuire, an obstetrician and infection control specialist at Roseland Community Hospital talks Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, with staff members about taking the COVID-19 vaccine. McGuire says countering misinformation and mistrust about vaccinations is a daily battle. Many workers ''have not forgotten about those studies where they used us as experiments,'' McGuire said, including the infamous Tuskegee research on Blacks with syphilis. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Tuesday is National Doctors' Day, and this year, the holiday holds even greater meaning.

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still working to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  As the vaccine rollout continues, cases are trending down, providing some hope toward a return to “normal.”

But the road to this point hasn’t been easy—and no one knows that better than doctors.

When COVID-19 first swept across the nation at the beginning of 2020, most of us sheltered in place in our homes in order to stay safe while doctors took to the front lines. They worked long, taxing hours in order to treat the influx of patients. Oftentimes, they even served as emotional support, comforting patients who couldn’t be with their families in their final hours.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, registered nurse Anita Grohmann puts on her PPE next to a balloon delivered to a patient in a COVID-19 unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. The U.S. has seen a dramatic turnaround since December and January, when hospitals were teeming with patients after holiday gatherings and pandemic fatigue caused a surge in cases and deaths. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Doctors fought through shortages of personal protective equipment. Some were forced to wear masks, meant for one-time use, for several days at a time. The CDC even revised its guidelines, allowing healthcare workers to reuse protective equipment, going against manufacturers' guidance.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Saturday, April 11, 2020 file photo, used protective medical masks are prepared for disinfecting at the Battelle N95 decontamination site in Somerville, Mass. Although it will take years for researchers to understand why the pandemic was disproportionately worse in the U.S., early studies that compare different countries' responses are finding that U.S. shortages of masks, gloves, gowns, shields, testing kits and other medical supplies indeed cost lives. Because of shortages in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidance to allow health care workers to reuse protective equipment, contradicting manufacturers' guidance. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Even when so much was unknown about the virus, doctors put themselves and their families at risk every day to come to work and treat patients in need. Many caught COVID-19 themselves, as they worked through crowded hospitals overwhelmed with patients. 

Credit: AP
FILE - This Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 photo provided by the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) shows hospital beds set up in the practice facility at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., that is ready to receive patients as needed. This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time. It's due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 320,000 Americans. (California OES via AP, File)

While we don't know exactly how many doctors tested positive for coronavirus, CDC data shows more than 450,000 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19 resulting in more than 1,500 deaths.

Doctors and healthcare workers have been the backbone of the nation and the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in celebrating their dedication and sacrifice on this National Doctors Day!

RELATED: 1 year later: What we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

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