Healthy US politician, 41, dies of Covid days before being sworn into office

A newly-elected US Congressman with no underlying health conditions has died of Covid aged 41, days before he was due to be sworn into his new role. Luke Letlow, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, died of Covid-related complications at a hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Tuesday night.

Letlow, a married dad to a young son and daughter, had been due to take office representing Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District on Sunday. He announced he was isolating at home on December 18 after testing positive for coronavirus.

Letlow was taken to a hospital close to his home in Monroe, Louisiana, the next day after his condition worsened. The politician was transferred to a hospital on Shreveport for specialist treatment on December 22, and was given antiviral drug remdesivir, as well as steroids, to try and treat his Covid symptoms.

Letlow sent a tweet on December 21 urging people who had recovered from Covid to donate plasma to help people still seriously-ill with the virus. He wrote ‘Your plasma is ESPECIALLY needed by those who are suffering. I cannot stress this enough.

‘Please consider saving lives by going out and donating at your local blood bank.’

In one of his final tweets, Letlow also spoke hopefully of recovering from Covid, writing: ‘Thank you for the continued outpouring of prayers and support for my family and me.

‘I am currently undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at St. Francis Hospital by a wonderful team of doctors and nurses. I am confident that with their help that I will be on the mend soon.’

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi led tributes to Letlow, saying: ‘Tonight, the United States House of Representatives sadly mourns the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow.

‘Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth-generation Louisianian who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service.’

House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said: ‘Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing.’

And Mike Johnson, a Republican Representative from a neighboring district to Letlow’s said he was ‘devastated’ by his colleague’s death, adding: ‘Luke had such a positive spirit, and he had a tremendously bright future ahead of him.’

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on public buildings to mark Letlow’s death, The New York Times reported.

Letlow is the first elected federal government official to die of Covid. He is survived by his wife Julia, their son Jeremiah, and daughter Jacqueline.

The US has recorded 19.51million Covid cases, and close to 339,000 deaths.

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