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Congressman-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana dies from COVID-19

Congressman-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana dies from COVID-19
U.S. Congressman-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana died at the age of 41 following complications from COVID-19 on Tuesday night. Photo by Kayla Branch Photography/Startbosshogg/Wikimedia Commons 

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Luke Letlow, who was elected to the U.S. Congress from Louisiana last month, died Tuesday night from complications of COVID-19. He was 41.

The Republican congressman-elect died at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport where he had been in the intensive care unit since Dec. 22, his representative Andrew Bautsch said in a statement, WDSU News reported.

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"The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time," Bautsch said. "A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time."

He is the first U.S. congressman or congressman-elect to die from COVID-19.

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Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and their two young children.

Letlow, who was to be sworn-in on Sunday, announced he had tested positive for the virus before he was admitted to the St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe on Dec. 19

Three days later, he was transferred to Shreveport, Bautsch said.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards offered his condolences to Letlow's family via Twitter, asking the public to pray for them.

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"I am heartbroken that he will not be able to serve our people as a U.S. representative, but I am even more devastated for his loving family," he said.

"I have ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Congressman-elect Letlow's funeral," he said.

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The Louisiana Congressional Delegation issued a statement saying they are "devastated" to hear of Letlow's death.

"Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him," the statement said. "He was looking forward to serving the people of Louisiana in Congress, and we were excited to welcome him to our delegation where he was ready to make an even greater impact on our state and our Nation. More than anything, Luke was a loving husband, father, brother and son, and his family -- like so many others who have been affected by this evil disease -- needs our prayers."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the U.S. House of Representatives was in mourning.

"Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth generation Louisianan who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service," she said. "May it be a comfort to Luke's wife, Julia, and their children Jeremiah and Jacqueline that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."

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According to Govtrack.us, more than 40 House representatives have tested positive for the virus. Since the pandemic began, nearly 338,561 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, a live tracker of the virus by Johns Hopkins University showed late Tuesday.

Louisiana on Tuesday reported reported nearly 4,000 infections for a total of 304,485. Sixty-one deaths were also reported in the past 24 hours, lifting the number of people who have lost their lives to the virus in the state to 7,397, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Notable deaths of 2020

Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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