Luke Letlow, Louisiana’s incoming Republican member of the U.S. House, died Tuesday night from complications related to COVID-19 only days before he was due to be sworn into office.
The 41-year-old died just 11 days after announcing he had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, he said he was at home, ‘resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols, and the recommendations of my doctors’.
Ahead of being diagnosed with coronavirus, Letlow held multiple campaign events, including meet-and-greets where people did not wear masks although they appeared to be standing six feet apart.
On December 19, Letlow said he was undergoing treatment at St Francis Hospital in Monroe. Three days after being admitted, his office said he had been transferred to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center.
At the time, the married father-of-two was in stable condition and was being treated Remdesivir and steroids – the same treatment President Trump was given.
Letlow, who was due to be sworn into office on Sunday, died on Tuesday night.
Republican Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, has died just eleven days after announcing he had coronavirus. He died from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection
LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali said Letlow died from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection.
‘It’s devastating to our entire team,’ Ghali said. ‘He had no underlying conditions. It was just COVID.’
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.
He also died on the day the number of single day fatalities related to the virus reached a record 3,708, and the total number of deaths during the pandemic surpassed 338,000.
Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for Louisiana’s 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.
Letlow and his wife Julia with their two young children in a recent photo they used for their Thanksgiving card
The following statement was issued by his campaign manager Andrew Bautsch on Tuesday night: ‘Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, passed away this evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport due to complications from COVID-19.
‘Letlow was admitted into a Monroe Hospital on December 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to Ochsner-LSU Health on Tuesday, December 22, and placed in intensive care.
‘Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, Phd., and two young children.
‘The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time.
‘A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.’
Letlow is pictured in a family photo posted to his Facebook pages
Letlow, pictured wearing a mask in this photograph is pictures with his wife and two kids
There are more than 19.5 million confirmed cases of the virus in the US with at least 338,544 deaths
When he announced his positive test for COVID-19, Letlow joined a list of Louisiana officials who have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, including U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.
Letlow, a Republican, won a runoff election on December 5 for the 5th District seat, which represents Northeast and Central Louisiana, and was due to be sworn in on Sunday.
He secured the seat with 62 percent of the vote and would have been Rep. Ralph Abraham’s successor who didn’t seek reelection after honoring a pledge to serve a limit of three terms.
He is the first member or member-elect of Congress to die from the coronavirus.
In the run-up to the election, Letlow held multiple campaign events including meet-and-greets where people did not wear masks but appeared to be standing six feet apart.
On other occasions while campaigning, he was seen to be wearing a mask.
On December 18, he tweeted his diagnosis, saying: ‘Thank you to everyone for your kind words and prayers. I have tested positive for COVID-19.
‘I’m at home resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols, and the recommendations of my doctors.’
It’s unclear if any of his family has the virus. Letlow was married with two young children.
Letlow is pictured at a campaign event earlier this year. Those attending were spaced apart
Letlow is pictured at another campaign event alongside some prospective voters
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards tweeted his condolences to Letlow’s family and stated flags would be at half-mast on the day of his funeral
Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) also tweeted his sadness at Letlow’s passing
The Louisiana Secretary of State tweeted prayers for Letlow’s family
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said Letlow would be dearly missed by the people of Louisiana
Gov. John Bel Edwards offered condolence via Twitter and in a lengthier statement
Gov. John Bel Edwards offered condolences via Twitter: ‘It is with heavy hearts that @FirstLadyOfLA and I offer our condolences to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s family on his passing after a battle with COVID-19. #lagov.’
‘COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,’ Edwards said in a lengthier 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.
‘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. Louisiana has lost more than 7,300 people to COVID-19 since March, and each one of them leaves a tremendous hole in our state.’
Gov. Edwards said that flags will be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning shared a statement following the news of Letlow’s death:
‘This is a stunning loss that is hard to swallow. Luke was a longtime personal friend and avid supporter of the fire service and law enforcement, even serving as a volunteer firefighter in north Louisiana. The state has truly lost the opportunity to have a world-class ambassador on its side.’
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, pictured, left, shared a statement following the news of Letlow’s death
Letlow had tweeted several times since receiving his diagnosis on December 18th
Letlow and his family pictured last month casting their votes at a local elementary school
Letlow appeared to have been preparing for Congress all of his life ever since he was president of the College Republicans at Louisiana Tech University. He is pictured here at the Republican National Convention in 2000
Letlow secured the seat with 62 percent of the vote and would have been Rep. Ralph Abraham’s successor, left, who didn’t seek reelection after honoring a pledge to serve a limit of three terms. The pair are pictured together in August 2020
Letlow has spent his career in policitics.
He arrived in Abraham’s office in 2014 after a stint working for a Denver energy company in governmental relations but he seemed as though he had been preparing for Congress all of his life ever since he was president of the College Republicans at Louisiana Tech University.
He interned for former Louisiana Republican 5th District Congressman John Cooksey of Monroe and was so keen to be involved after returning home he became Cooksey’s driver in 2001 while still in college.
Letlow then managed to become involved with Bobby Jindal working on his failed 2003 governor’s campaign.
When Jindal finally became Louisiana’s Republican Governor from 2008 to 2016, Letlow was there once again, working as a senior staffer for the young governor during his first term.
Letlow then managed to become involved with Bobby Jindal working on his failed 2003 governor’s campaign and then as a senior staff from 2008
Letlow worked as a senior staffer for the young Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal during his first term in office in 2008 and stayed for two years. Jindal paid tribute on Twitter (above)
Jindal tweeted his condolences on Tuesday night.
‘Supriya and I are heartbroken to learn of @LukeLetlow’s passing. Luke has been a good friend for so many years, and we are saddened he was taken from us at such a young age. We had talked in recent days about his excitement about the opportunity to serve the people of the 5th Congressional district, and his love and devotion for Julia and their kids.
‘I first met Luke when he was still a college student, and spent countless hours with him in his truck driving the back roads of Louisiana. His passion for service has been a constant throughout his life. He truly enjoyed meeting people, learning about them, and helping them. We keep Luke, his family, and especially his young children in our prayers,’ Jindal wrote.
Luke Letlow pictured campaigning mask-less on October 9th
Luke Letlow is pictured campaigning mask-less on October 30th
Letlow was able to connect Jindal with Louisiana’s rural voters.
He took him to Protestant churches, volunteer fire stations and convenience stores at country crossroads in northern and central Louisiana according to The News-Star.
‘In his first campaign Bobby had trouble connecting with rural voters; we changed that in 2007,’ said Letlow.
‘Those were exciting times,’ he said. ‘Bobby was young and brilliant and energetic. It was an electric atmosphere.’
Just two years into Jindal’s first term as governor Letlow left the team abruptly after sensing that Jindal’s focus was shifting to national politics and a possible presidential bid.
‘There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t a path I wanted to take even though I thought he might win,’ he said.
The Congressman-elect sometimes wore a mask when campaigning, sometimes he didn’t
Letlow is pictured in July after signing up to run for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana