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Congressman-elect from Louisiana dies of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the life of an incoming member of Congress from Louisiana.

Luke Letlow, 41, who was elected to represent the state’s 5th congressional district in December, died Tuesday evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center “due to complications from COVID-19,” Letlow spokesman Andrew Bautsch wrote on the congressman-elect’s Facebook page.

Letlow had announced his diagnosis Dec. 18, writing on Facebook that he was “at home resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols, and the recommendations of my doctors.”

Days later, he posted he was undergoing treatment at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, then Dec. 23 he posted he had been transferred to Ochsner-LSU Health. At the time, Dr. G.E. Ghali, chancellor of the hospital, said Letlow was in “stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit” and was receiving the drug Remdesivir and steroids as part of his treatment.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the news.

“For years, Luke has served (Louisiana) tirelessly. More than that, Luke was a loving husband and father,” Kennedy said. “Please join us in praying for the Letlow family during this time of incredible loss.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat, echoed those thoughts.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow,” she tweeted. “He was a promising young leader who loved Louisiana deeply. Our prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”

Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.

A special election will now take place to elect someone to represent the state’s 5th district, which Letlow carried in a runoff election with 62% of the vote.

December is the country’s deadliest month during the pandemic, and on the day Letlow died there were 124,686 coronavirus patients in hospitals, the most reported on any day, according to the Covid Tracking Report. The proportion of ICU patients who have coronavirus has increased from 16% in September to 40% last week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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