Desk Report (Channel TT): Letlow is the highest ranking U.S. politician to die of covid-19, which has now killed more than 337,000 Americans. Louisiana Rep.-elect Luke Letlow died of Covid-19, just days before the Republican was set to be sworn in as a new member of Congress, his spokesman said Tuesday. He was 41.
Mr. Letlow won a runoff election this month to replace his former boss, Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham, who represents the Fifth Congressional District in the state. It is the state’s largest district and mostly rural, covering the northeastern and central parts of the state.
Louisiana’s eight-member congressional delegation called Letlow’s death devastating.
“Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him. 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,” they said in a statement.
The state’s newest congressman, set to take office in January, was admitted to a Monroe hospital on Dec. 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus disease. He was later transferred to the Shreveport facility and placed in intensive care.
Dr. G.E. Ghali, of LSU Health Shreveport, told The Advocate that Letlow didn’t have any underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk to COVID-19.
Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for the sprawling 5th District U.S. House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.
He was to fill the seat being vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff and ran with Abraham’s backing for the job. Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to pray for Letlow’s family.
“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “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.”
Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children. U.S. House leaders offered their condolences Tuesday night.