A cardiologist at a coronavirus quarantine unit believed she was about to get a ticket for speeding after she was pulled over by a Minnesota state trooper on I-35 last week, but instead, she found herself overwhelmed with gratitude after he handed her five N95 masks from his stash.
Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, 37, wrote about her experience on Facebook March 21, saying that when the trooper saw her Massachusetts driver's license, he asked her what she was doing in Minnesota. She explained that she traveled to the area every month as part of her work as a locums cardiologist.
After the trooper returned from his patrol vehicle, he chastised her for speeding, pointing out that not only would she be taking up resources if she got into an accident, she wouldn't be able to help her patients any longer if she were hurt.
But instead of a ticket for speeding, the trooper told her he would let her off with a warning and something else.
"As I sputtered to apologize and say thank you, he reached in to hand me what I assumed was my license back. It wasn’t until my hand had closed around what he was giving me that its unexpected bulkiness drew my eyes to it," Dr. Janjua wrote. "Five N95 masks, from the supply the state had given him for his protection."
N95 masks have been in short supply as demand for them has overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world. The masks allow health care workers to protect themselves while treating patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Dr. Janjua said the gesture brought her to tears.
"I burst into tears. And though it may just have been the cold wind, I think he teared up a little as well, before wishing me well and walking away."
Dr. Janjua said that like all healthcare workers and emergency responders who are battling the coronavirus crisis around the world, she'd been afraid of not having enough protective equipment to keep her from getting sick, writing that in her darkest moments, "worried about what would happen if I fell sick far from home."
"This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking," she wrote.
Dr. Janjua ended her tale with a message of hope, writing that "The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage."
According to NBC News, the trooper was identified as Trooper Brian Schwartz, who noticed that she had two used N95 masks in her bag, leading him to believe that she was reusing them.
"Trooper Schwartz said he heard there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and thought Ashraf could use the extra masks," a statement from MSP said. "Troopers are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time."
"Thank you to Sarosh for her hard work and dedication," the Minnesota State Patrol said on Facebook. "Troopers are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time."
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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