A representative-elect from Louisiana died of Covid-19 Tuesday, the first member of the US Congress to succumb to the disease.
Republican Luke Letlow, 41, had been elected to Louisiana’s 5th district and was due to be sworn in on Sunday.
Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards announced the news on Twitter with a “heavy heart.”
“I am heartbroken that he will not be able to serve our people as a US Representative, but I am even more devastated for his loving family,” he wrote.
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) December 30, 2020
Edwards said he had ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.
Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, 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,” his family said in a statement to US media.
Letlow had announced on December 18 that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was quarantining at home. He was hospitalized three days later.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying the lower chamber “sadly mourns” his passing.
“Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth generation Louisianan who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service,” Pelosi said in the statement.
“As the House grieves… our sorrow is compounded by the grief of so many other families who have also suffered lives cut short by this terrible virus.”
House of Representatives Republican whip Steve Scalise, who also represents Louisiana, tweeted he was “devastated” to hear of Letlow’s death.
The US has seen a troubling surge in coronavirus cases in recent months. As of Monday evening, the country had recorded 19,526,228 cases with 337,918 deaths, both by far the worst tolls in the world.