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'Front line hero' doctor dies after nearly 4-month battle against COVID-19

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Posted at 8:34 AM, Sep 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-13 08:34:32-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A prominent Kentucky infectious disease specialist who was hailed by the governor as a “front line hero” has died after a nearly four-month battle against COVID-19.

Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, who tested positive for the virus on May 13, died on Friday night, Med Center Health in Bowling Green said. Gov. Andy Beshear tweeted Saturday that he was “heartbroken” to hear of her death and urged people to follow her advice and “wear a mask in her honor.”

Connie Smith, president and CEO of Med Center Health, said Shadowen “will forever be remembered as a nationally recognized expert who provided the very best care for our patients and community. She was a dear friend to many.”

Before contracting the virus, Shadowen led Med Center Health’s work in National Institute of Health trials of patients’ treatment for the virus, according to media reports.

Shadowen had said she believed she contracted the virus after an elderly family member received care at home from an infected caregiver.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate in its ability to penetrate our homes and communities,” Shadowen said when announcing in the spring that she had tested positive for the virus.

While battling the virus, she surprised members of the Bowling Green–Warren County Coronavirus Workgroup by joining in a conference call, telling the group: “It’s a great day to be alive.” She stressed the importance of wearing a mask in public.

In his social media tribute Saturday, Beshear referred to Shadowen as a “front line hero who worked tirelessly to protect the lives of others.”

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.