Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who was just days away from being sworn in as Louisiana’s new Republican congressman, died Tuesday at 41 from complications related to COVID-19.
Letlow, announced Dec. 18 that he had contracted the virus and first began quarantining at home, according to the Monroe News Star. The next day, he was admitted to St. Francis Medical Center and then transferred to the ICU at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport on Dec. 23 as his condition worsened.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 30, 2020
LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali explained that Letlow died from a heart attack after a procedure related to COVID-19. “It’s devastating to our entire team,” he said. “He had no underlying conditions. It was just COVID.”
Letlow leaves behind his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two young children — Jeremiah, 3, and Jacqueline, 11 months.
“The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time,” spokesman Andrew Bautsch said in a statement. “A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.”
Letlow, who was from the small town of Start, Louisiana, won a December runoff election for the state’s 5th Congressional District, which encompasses the cities of Monroe and Alexandria. He filled the seat vacated by Republican Ralph Abraham, for whom he had worked as chief of staff. He had before worked for former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing. I spoke with his wife, Julia. Judy and I are praying for her and their two young children during this terrible time.”
Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing.
I spoke with his wife, Julia. Judy and I are praying for her and their two young children during this terrible time.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 30, 2020
The Louisiana congressional delegation released a statement that said in part: “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.”
Devastated to hear of my friend Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing. Luke had such a positive spirit and a tremendously bright future. Join me in praying for his young family during this incredibly difficult time.
Statement from the Louisiana Congressional Delegation: pic.twitter.com/cB5RNd6uew
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) December 30, 2020
Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also expressed his condolences in a Twitter thread, saying in part: “It is with heavy hearts that [my wife] and I offer our condolences to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s family on his passing after a battle with COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” Edwards continued. “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.”
Edwards noted that he would be ordering flags in Louisiana lowered to half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.