A longtime Union County Schools employee in North Carolina has died after a months-long battle with the coronavirus, her family announced Saturday.
Melissa Bowman was hospitalized in August with COVID-19 and died Friday, according to social media posts and updates on the family’s GoFundMe page. Bowman worked for Union County Schools for two decades — including 11 years as a data manager at Poplin Elementary, a spokesperson for Union County Schools told McClatchy News in a statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear Monday where Bowman might have contracted the virus, but WSOC reported she has not worked since testing positive for COVID-19 in August.
“Heartbroken is an understatement,” her daughter Madilyn Bowman posted on Facebook just after midnight Nov. 14. “Mom passed away tonight after struggling and fighting for every second she had left here on this earth. Her body was so tired and her journey was so rough. We were all there beside her, up until her last moments.”
Bowman’s mother-in-law Nancy Bowman also died from complications of the coronavirus in August. They were treated on the same floor of the hospital, her husband Michael Bowman said in a Sept. 7 Facebook post.
“We couldn’t see her because of the quarantine,” he wrote of his mother’s death. “So bad. If someone says that Covid is not real, come talk to me. Please keep your families safe. We tried our hardest to not let Mom or any of us get it and we did.”
Friends and family started a GoFundMe for Melissa Bowman on Sept. 1, a few weeks after she was admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator. The page has raised more than $18,500 of its $25,000 goal.
In a Facebook update on Oct. 7, Madilyn Bowman said her mom had been hospitalized for 50 days and on a ventilator for 42. But the prognosis was looking up.
“We hope to see her continuing to improve and show us she’s ready to go home more and more everyday,” the post states. “She is definitely not out of the woods yet, but the sun is starting to peek through the trees.”
Things took a turn for the worse last week, and the family took to social media to ask for prayers.
“Just wish I could give you a hug right about now… keep on fighting momma,” Melissa Bowman’s son Matt wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
She died Friday night. A memorial of flowers and balloons now sits outside Poplin Elementary School, where Bowman was also a crossing guard, WBTV reported.
“When we saw her on the crosswalk, it was so much fun to have her there when our mornings were gloomy,” elementary school student Raleigh Grace told the TV station. “Every time we saw her, it made me feel happy.”
Bowman isn’t the first school district employee in North Carolina to have died after contracting the coronavirus.
Julie Davis, a 49-year-old third-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary School in Stanly County, died in early October after a 10-day battle with COVID-19, the Charlotte Observer reported.
In Fayetteville, 51-year-old art school teacher Mary Ward died Nov. 6, McClatchy News reported. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks before.