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70-year-old nurse dies of COVID-19 after leaving retirement to teach front-line workers

A Texas registered nurse who came out of retirement to teach future front-line workers amid the coronavirus pandemic has died of complications from the virus. 

Iris Meda, 70, had retired in January as a nursing clinic administrator with the North Texas Job Corps, according to The Washington Post

As the pandemic hit the country, however, Meda decided to enter into a teaching role at Collin College in Dallas to prepare young students to combat the pandemic. 

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“She felt like if she could gain momentum by teaching some of those basics, we could contain any virus,” her daughter, Selene Meda-Schlamel, told the Post on Monday. “She wanted to do something that would make a difference.”

According to local NBC affiliate, KXAS-TV, Meda began teaching nursing students and high schoolers earning dual-credit in September. Meda-Schlamel told the outlet that her mother contracted the virus in October. 

According to the Post, Collin College President H. Neil Matkin said in an email sent to the college Monday that on Oct. 2, Meda was in contact with a student who was showing symptoms like sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. 

While everyone was wearing masks, Matkin said the lesson that day prevented Meda from social distancing from the students. 

Meda learned the student had tested positive on Oct. 9, the president said, and two days later, she began showing symptoms. 

Meda was eventually hospitalized on Oct. 17 and was soon after placed on a ventilator. 

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Just over a week ago, Meda-Schlamel and Meda’s 75-year-old husband wore personal protective equipment to be with Meda as she passed away. 

“Just to see this amazing, vivacious woman ... so willing to put her life on the line to help others so they could then help others, to see her languishing there,” Meda-Schlamel told KXAS-TV. “It was such a tragedy.”

A GoFundMe page started to cover Meda's medical bills and funeral expenses has garnered over $15,000 from more than 300 donors. The money collected will also be used to begin a scholarship fund in her name.  

Meda’s death comes as states across the country battle a rapid surge in coronavirus infections. 

As of Tuesday morning, more than 12,492,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 257,600 have died, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.

In Texas, the Department of State Health Services has recorded more than 1.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 20,588 fatalities. 

On Monday, Texas had more than 6,500 new infections, as well as 32 deaths as a result of the virus.