Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, 62, was an early advocate of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and even worked from her hospital bed to try to help others with the virus.

By Ashley Boucher
September 23, 2020
Dr. Rebecca Shadowen

An infectious disease specialist in Kentucky has died after a months-long battle with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, 62, died on September 11 — four months after she tested positive for the contagious respiratory virus, CNN reported.

Shadowen, her husband David, and their daughter Kathryn, 23, all tested positive back in May after the doctor's mother-in-law contracted COVID-19 from her caretaker. Kathryn's twin brother Jesse was the only member of the family not to catch the deadly virus.

Shadowen is remembered by her family and colleagues as a motivator who put other before herself.

"Working in infectious disease and willing to put everyone's needs in front of herself, whether it was her patients or us as her kids, she took care of everybody that she could," Shadowen's daughter Kathryn said to CNN.

Kathryn said that her mother was "easily one of the smartest, most driven people I knew."

"She always said to have the grace to let people be who they are and really believed and lived out the idea of treating everyone how you'd want to be treated," she added to the outlet.

Shadowen, who worked at the Medical Center at Bowling Green, was an early advocate of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

She worked on the county's COVID-19 workgroup, NBC News reported, and insisted on the need for a mask ordinance in her community — and even continued to work from her hospital bed when on an upswing.

"She'd say, 'Look folks, this isn't politics. This is science.' I heard her say that many times," Shadowen's colleague Dennis Chaney told NBC News.

Her husband David, also a doctor, told CNN, "I think if she was here, she would very much encourage people to wear a mask whenever they're in public, that they should social distance always, avoid the large crowds, and this fall, when the flu vaccine comes out, please take it because you wouldn't want to get those two diseases at the same time."

Jesse added to CNN that Shadowen's recommendations were trusted in their community.

"She was a person that didn't take a lot of crap. She knew what she was talking about when it came to her field and when it came to a lot of other things," he said of his mother, who helped establish the Medical Center at Bowling Green's coronavirus unit earlier this year. "She was someone that I really trusted and I think she's someone that a lot of people trusted."

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear mourned Shadowen's death on Twitter earlier this month, and encouraged people to wear a mask as she recommended.

"I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, a front line hero who worked tirelessly to protect the lives of others. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues," Beshear wrote. "Please, follow Dr. Shadowen’s advice – wear a mask in her honor."

There have been more than 6.9 million reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Tuesday, according to data from the NYT, and the virus is now the third-largest killer of Americans.

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