Luke Letlow, Louisiana’s incoming Republican member of the US House, died on Tuesday night (US time) from complications linked to the coronavirus. The 41-year-old politician was supposed to be sworn into office on Sunday.
Letlow is the first member or member-elect to die from the coronavirus, though dozens of lawmakers have been tested positive for COVID-19 over the past months.
“The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time,” Andrew Bautsch, Letlow’s spokesman, said.
The congressman-elect first announced his diagnosis on his Facebook page on December 18, writing that he was “at home resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols and the recommendation of my doctors.”
Days after, he posted that he was undergoing treatment at St. Francis Hospital Monroe before a statement for his office on December 23 said he had been transferred to the Ochsner LSU Health Shreverport Academic Medical Center, where he died.
Dr. G.E. Ghali of LSU Health Shreveport, said Letlow didn’t have any underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk.
News of Letlow’s death was met with an immediate outpouring of support.
Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican of Louisiana, tweeted, “Luke Letlow is now with our Creator, but his premature departure from this world is a huge loss to Louisiana and America. Just weeks ago, voters overwhelmingly chose Luke to represent them in Congress.”
“They saw what so many of us know of Luke – kind, smart, quick-witted, God-fearing, hardworking, honest and just a good guy.”
Life is a fragile gift. Luke's passing reminds me how thankful we should be everyday for all of the blessings and challenges we have. Please join me in praying for Luke, Julia and their young family. pic.twitter.com/92gPsVt98m— Rep. Garret Graves (@RepGarretGraves) December 30, 2020
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat, also said, “He was a promising young leader who loved Louisiana deeply. Our prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral of Luke Letlow.
I have ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Congressman-elect Letlow’s funeral. #lagov— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) December 30, 2020
Letlow was elected in a December runoff election for the 5th District US House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria. He garnered 62 of the vote, and was widely favored by the heavily Republican district.
He was slated to fill the seat vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff.
Luke Letlow is one of more than 7,000 people in Louisiana who have died from COVID-19 since March, according to data from the state health department.
December is already the country’s deadliest month since the coronavirus pandemic started. Across states, a total of 19.4 million infections and 336,000 deaths.
On Tuesday evening (US time), the US also confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus strain, which is believed to have originated from the UK. The Colorado patient, a man in his 20s, does not have a travel history and has no close contacts.