Tributes have been paid to Dr Rebecca Shadowen after the married mum and infectious disease specialist passed away in the US aged 62.
Dr Shadowen, who lived in Bowling Green in Kentucky, started warning people about the dangers of the coronavirus in March.
Her husband David Shadowen – who is also a doctor – told NBC News that since his wife’s passing numerous former patients of hers have approached him to say: “I’m alive today because she saved my life.”
While her heartbroken daughter Kathryn, 23, added: “It was really powerful to be the kid of someone who saved people. A lot of kids think of their parents as heroes. Mine actually was.”
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear told of his heartbreak after Dr Shadowen died on September 11
He said: “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.
“Please follow Dr. Shadowen’s advice – wear a mask in her honour.”
Dr Shadowen used her Facebook profile to urge others to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines laid about by the US government.
In a post about wearing masks on March 13, she said: “If you could save the life of another person without harming your own, would you? Although we are (fiercely) individuals, we still live as community.”
A few days later she wrote: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make the Bowling Green area the least affected by coronavirus (Covid-19)! We not only get the award, we create it!
“I have always described Bowling Green as a ‘special sweet spot’ because of all we have and all of who we are here. It is our home.
“Let us be the one community that acts now to isolate ourselves and live by the recommendations to stop the spread by stopping in-person exposure to others.”
Dr Shadowen worked at the Medical Centre at Bowling Green and was also a member of the Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Workgroup.
She fell ill with virus in May and recently wrote: “I wish to sincerely thank all those who have been supportive during my serious illness.
“I am so honored and proud to be a part of this medical community and see first-hand the extraordinary team work, expertise, and engagement.
“You are my heroes, friends, colleagues and family. I hope soon to be free again!”
Dennis Chaney, the medical centre’s vice president of ancillary services, told NBC News: “She’d say, ‘Look folks, this isn’t politics. This is science. I heard her say that many times.”