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KY infectious disease expert who led fight against COVID-19 dies after 4-month battle with virus

KY infectious disease expert who led fight against COVID-19 dies after 4-month battle with virus
Posted at 1:04 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 13:04:05-04

A Kentucky infectious disease expert who advocated for social distancing and the use of masks in her state has died after a monthslong battle with COVID-19.

According to WBKO-TV in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Dr. Rebecca Shadowen — an infectious disease specialist at The Medical Center in Bowling Green and a community leader amid the pandemic — died on Sept. 11 following a four-month fight with the virus.

According to a statement from The Medical Center, Shawoden had worked at the center since 1989 and had been a "physician leader" across Kentucky for more than 30 years.

In the early days of the pandemic, Shadowen pushed tirelessly for those in her community to isolate and adopt common-sense social distancing measures.

"(I)f you could save the life of another person without harming your own, would you?" Showden posted on Facebook on March 13. "Although we are (fiercely) individuals, we still live as community. Please take the Coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously. YOU may be healthy or may not feel this is threatening to you."

Shadowen later served on Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Working Group — an inter-agency organization that helped set policy and informed Kentuckians about the risks posed by COVID-19.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Shadowen contracted COVID-19 on May 13. David Shawoden, Rebecca's wife, said that both she and their daughter tested positive for the virus, while her son did not. Shadowen's daughter reportedly only suffered mild symptoms.

However, Rebecca Shadowen faced a steep road to recovery. NBC News reports she was on and off a ventilator and spent months in the hospital. In a July Facebook post, Shawoden thanked her friends for continued prayers and kind words and asked others to wear a mask or face covering while in public.

"Although I am not home yet, I am in a very long recovery period and making slow progress here in Bowling Green," she wrote. "Which, by the way is the greatest place on the planet with the most wonderful people."

However, Shadowen's four-month battle ended on Sept. 11.

"There are really no words to describe the pain felt by her family, physician colleagues and Med Center Health teammates," said Connie Smith, the CEO of Med Center Health. "Dr. 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."

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also mourned Shadowen's death, and remembered her as a " front line hero who worked tirelessly to protect the lives of others."

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.