Ariz. Mom Dies from COVID a Week After Giving Birth: 'I Wish She Had Gotten Vaccinated Sooner,' Says Boyfriend

Denise Cotton died on Sept. 13, just over a week after undergoing an emergency caesarian section to deliver her daughter Kara

Denise Cotton
Photo: gofundme

A 31-year-old Arizona woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant died just over a week after welcoming a baby girl.

Denise Cotton died on Sept. 13, 12 days after giving birth to her daughter Kara, her boyfriend Mike Jerome shared in a GoFundMe campaign created in support of their newborn.

Cotton first fell ill in August with what she believed was the flu, according to Jerome. Though she tested negative for COVID-19 when she went to the hospital, her symptoms got worse and she returned to the emergency room three days later.

After another test came back positive for the respiratory virus, Cotton — then 36 weeks pregnant — underwent an emergency caesarian section to deliver her child, Jerome said.

"Due to Covid she was not allowed visitors and was not even allowed to hold her newborn baby girl," he wrote of Cotton. "She seemed to go back and forth. Some days she would make progress and others she would worsen."

Denise Cotton

Eventually, Cotton's condition declined to a point where "her body would stop responding to treatment" and the family removed her from life support, according to Jerome.

Jerome told local news station KSAZ-TV that Cotton was not vaccinated during her pregnancy.

"Obviously looking back, I wish she had gotten vaccinated sooner," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OB-GYN groups strongly advise people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as studies have confirmed that the vaccines are safe and effective for those groups.

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Now 3 weeks old, Kara is out of the neonatal intensive care unit and is being cared for by Jerome, who says he's trying his best to carry on Cotton's legacy.

"I tell her about her mother everyday and how much her mother loved her," he told KSAZ-TV of his daughter. "It's hard because I see her mother in her face when I look at her."

As of Wednesday night, 55 percent of people in the United States have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and 64 percent have had at least one dose, according to the New York Times.

As information about thecoronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO andlocal public health departments.PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, clickhere.

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