Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dead from COVID-19

Luke Letlow, R-Start, chief of staff to exiting U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, speaks after signing up to run for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, on July 22, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
Luke Letlow, R-Start, chief of staff to exiting U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, speaks after signing up to run for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, on July 22, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. – 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 would have been sworn into office. He was 41.

Letlow spokesman Andrew Bautsch confirmed the congressman-elect's death at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport.

“The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time,” Bautsch said in a statement. “A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.”

Louisiana's eight-member congressional delegation called Letlow's death devastating.

“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," they said in a statement.

The state's newest congressman, set to take office in January, was admitted to a Monroe hospital on Dec. 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus disease. He was later transferred to the Shreveport facility and placed in intensive care.

Dr. G.E. Ghali, of LSU Health Shreveport, told The Advocate that Letlow didn't have any underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk to COVID-19.

Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for the sprawling 5th District U.S. House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.