SHREVEPORT, La. (BRPROUD) — Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, chosen weeks ago to represent central and northeastern Louisiana on Capitol Hill, died of COVID-19 complications Tuesday, days before he was to take office.
Letlow, 41, was admitted to a Monroe hospital on Dec. 19 after testing positive for the virus. On Dec. 22, doctors transferred him to Ochsner LSU Health’s intensive care unit in Shreveport.
“The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult time,” his family said in a statement to the Monroe News-Star.
Letlow, a former chief of staff to retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham, won the race to succeed his longtime boss on Dec. 5. The Richland Parish Republican was set to take office this Monday for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.
“There are no words for this loss,” Abraham said in a statement late Tuesday. “There was no one like Luke Letlow, and there was no one who loved this state and its people more. Luke was a part of our family, and we are so incredibly proud of the man he was. Luke leaves behind a legacy of service, a love for his community, and a love and understanding of people of every walk of life that will forever be unmatched.”
Letlow is the first member or member-elect of Congress to die of COVID-19. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Louisiana’s eight congressional members — Abraham, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Rep. Cedric Richmond, Rep. Garret Graves, Sen. John Kennedy, Rep. Clay Higgins and Rep. Mike Johnson — released a joint statement Tuesday night:
“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. 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.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released this statement Tuesday night:
“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon. 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. I hope all of the people of Louisiana will join Donna and me in praying for Congressman-elect Letlow’s family, especially his wife Julia and their two children, his many friends and the people of the 5th Congressional District.”
Edwards has ordered flags to fly at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral. The late congressman-elect’s family plans to announce arrangements at a later time.
Letlow is among the more than 7,000 people in Louisiana to die of COVID-19 since March, according to state health department figures.