A desperate mum covered her virus nurse daughter in a blanket so she could give her a tearful hug for the first time in weeks.

A family friend took a photo of Cheryl Norton embracing frontline health worker Kelsey Kerr amid the ever-growing pandemic.

The 64-year-old mum, from Blue Ash, Ohio, grabbed a sheet from the washing basket and threw it over her daughter when she dropped round on Friday to pick up some essential supplies.

Kelsey, 28, was working 12 hour shifts at Christ Church Hospital in Cincinnati, but is now isolating with her husband and dog.

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The mother and daughter hadn't been able to hug for weeks

The heartbreaking photo - which saw Kelsey also keep her face mask on - emerged as the killer bug spread to over 450,000 Americans.

"I just want to know she’s okay so when I got that one opportunity to see her, I just had to throw that sheet over her," Cheryl told  Good Morning America.

"I thought I want to hug her and if she has a sheet around her maybe I can do it.

"I see on social media that all these healthcare workers are feeling very isolated and I didn’t want that to happen her."

Kelsey is currently self isolating with her husband and dog

Kelsey said the embrace was a welcome surprise after she'd worked around the clock to treat Covid-19 patients.

"It was so nice," she said. "We’ve always been big huggers and it’s been pretty unusual to do these drop-offs and not get out of the car and be able to hug her."

Remaining at a safe distance, Cincinnati Enquirer  photographer and family friend Liz Dufour snapped the precious moment.

The US death toll hit 16,129 on Thursday, with 5,512 confirmed cases in Ohio, while 213 state residents have died from the bug, according to Governor Mike DeWine.

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Coronavirus outbreak

At a press briefing, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr Amy Acton said around 55,000 people have been tested but Ohio is struggling to get on top of the virus.

“We certainly have a ways to go," she told reporters. "The death rate continue to go up tragically in Ohio.”

Kelsey hopes the picture of her and her mum would bring a "bit of sunlight" to people finding things difficult during the crisis.