A group of Philadelphia nurses recently got some surprise visitors — Ellen DeGeneres, Ciara, and Russell Wilson.
DeGeneres, the comedian who likes to highlight good news on her afternoon talk show, video-chatted with nurses who are treating coronavirus patients at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The crew, which calls itself the Swab Squad, went viral after making a TikTok video of them dancing to Ciara’s “Level Up” in the Center City parking lot where they do coronavirus testing.
The squad recently told The Inquirer dancing was a way they get out nerves before their shifts.
“When you get put in a parking lot to test people for a pandemic virus, it is an unusual situation,” said Jeffrey Salvatore, a 29-year-old clinical nurse specialist. “We just took all of that energy and decided to make it as positive as we could for ourselves.”
Doctors and nurses at other area hospitals have used social media to relieve the stress of these unprecedented times, to shed light on what’s really happening inside overwhelmed emergency rooms, to ask for advice from other medical professionals, and, in at least one case, to anonymously criticize government response to the crisis.
The dances of Jefferson nurses, of course, fall into the stress-relieving category, and serve as a way to spread positivity in the face of fear.
While chatting with DeGeneres, one member of the crew choked up describing how scared she was when she found out she was being transferred to the medical intensive-care unit — the hospital’s coronavirus “epicenter," she said — and how much her colleagues lifted her up with encouraging messages.
During the interview, she and her coworkers received another encouraging message in the form of a video from Ciara, who said she was inspired by the clip of them dancing to her song. Her husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, popped in to praise the squad, too.
“You guys are doing something so amazing and so special,” the singer said. “You guys are giving the world joy at a time when we need it by dancing and leveling up.”
“What’s up, squad?” Wilson said. “You guys keep leveling up, keep doing your thing. You’re the true, true heroes.”
Before signing off, DeGeneres announced that Shutterfly, a photography company that partners with her show philanthropically, was donating $50,000 to help Jefferson employees who are struggling financially. She also said she’d be sending them all to one of her shows, when it is safe to do so, and including them in product giveaways.
The group screamed, squealed, cried, and clapped their hands in excitement.
“I am sending you so much love,” DeGeneres said. “Just know when you’re there and it’s the hardest moment, the hardest day, you haven’t seen your family ... Know how many people are thinking of you and thanking you and sending you love.”