GOP Congressman-Elect Luke Letlow, 41, Dies from COVID-19 Days Before Being Sworn In

An incoming Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana died of COVID-19 only days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office.

Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died Tuesday, 11 days after announcing he contracted the virus on December 18. He was hospitalized one day after announcing his positive test result, and transferred to the intensive care unit of a different hospital last week as his condition worsened despite treatment with steroids and the antiviral drug remdesivir.

"Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, passed away this evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport due to complications from COVID-19," Andrew Bautsch, Letlow's campaign manager, wrote in a statement. "Letlow was admitted into a Monroe Hospital on December 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to Ochsner-LSU Health on Tuesday, December 22, and placed in intensive care."

"Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, Phd., and two young children," added Bautsch. "The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time."

Letlow was elected to represent Louisiana's 5th Congressional District after winning a runoff election on December 5. He would have succeeded retiring GOP Congressman Ralph Abraham, who he had worked under as chief of staff. Letlow had been set to take part in a swearing in ceremony on Sunday, alongside other new members of the House.

On Monday, Bautsch told USA Today that Letlow's condition remained "stable," while admitting that the congressman-elect would miss the swearing-in ceremony due to doctors having "prescribed rest for his continued recovery."

In the days following his hospitalization, Letlow took to Twitter to praise the medical staff caring for him, while urging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma for possible antibody therapy use.

Prominent political figures from both sides of the aisle expressed their condolences shortly after news of his passing emerged.

"Tonight, the United States House of Representatives sadly mourns the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth generation Louisianan who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service."

"May it be a comfort to Luke's wife Julia and their children Jeremiah and Jacqueline that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time," Pelosi added.

"Please keep Luke Letlow's wife, two young children, and his entire family in your prayers during this impossibly difficult time," Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a tweet.

December has seen significantly more new U.S. COVID-10 cases and deaths than any month since the pandemic began, with just under 6 million cases and 68,666 deaths recorded as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

New cases hit a record high on December 18, the same day that Letlow announced his diagnosis, with 249, 664 confirmed cases reported across the country.

GOP Congressman-elect Dies of COVID-19
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. is pictured in this undated file photo. Douglas Rissing/Getty