Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, had undergone surgery for a blood clot before he suffered a heart attack and died Tuesday, it has been revealed
Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, had undergone surgery for a blood clot before he suffered a heart attack and died Tuesday, it has been revealed.
The Louisiana Republican House Representative-elect tragically passed away due to COVID-19 complications while undergoing treatment for the virus at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport, weeks after he spoke at GOP campaign events to maskless crowds.
His death sent shockwaves through the government and the nation given his age and that he had no underlying health conditions, as he became the first federally-elected official to die from the infection.
New details have emerged about the treatment he was undergoing in hospital in his final moments.
Letlow had developed a COVID-related blood clot and underwent two procedures to treat it, the Monroe News-Star reported.
The second follow-up procedure appeared to go to plan on Tuesday but Letlow then suffered a heart attack later that day and died.
LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali told the paper his death was ‘devastating to our entire team’.
‘He had no underlying conditions. It was just COVID,’ he added.
This comes as Letlow’s wife and two children prepare to mourn the 41-year-old at his funeral which is planned for 2p.m. Saturday afternoon at North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe.
Letlow, who had spoken in favor of ending lockdowns, was due to be sworn into office Sunday by his predecessor US Representative Ralph Abraham.
Because he could not attend the in-person event in Washington, arrangements were being made for it to take place at his hospital bedside, before Letlow’s shock death Tuesday.
His death was first confirmed in a post to his official Facebook page.
The married father-of-two died just 11 days after revealing he’d tested positive for the virus on December 18.
At the time, he said he was at home, ‘resting, following all CDC guidelines, quarantine protocols, and the recommendations of my doctors’. He was being treated with Remdesivir and steroids – part of the same treatment President Trump was given.
But the following day, he revealed he was undergoing treatment at St Francis Hospital in Monroe.
In the weeks and months before his death, Letlow held multiple campaign events, including meet-and-greets where sometimes both he and attendees did not wear masks and in some cases were not adhering to social distancing. Pictured in a social media post November 3
An image from a Nov. 9 campaign event in Washington Parish shows a maskless Letlow addressing the crowd, who many also appeared to have forgone PPE
A packed campaign event shows supports – some wearing masks – applauding Letlow as he enters a crowded room (picture taken September 12)
The Congressman-elect sometimes wore a mask when campaigning, sometimes he didn’t
Three days after being admitted, his office said he had been transferred to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center.
Chancellor of the hospital, G.E Ghali , later confirmed he died after going into cardiac arrest after undergoing an operation related to the virus.
It’s not currently known when or where Letlow may have contracted the virus.
In the weeks and months before his death, Letlow held multiple campaign events, including meet-and-greets where sometimes both he and attendees did not wear masks and in some cases were not adhering to social distancing.
He posted numerous photos to his Facebook page of himself and dozens of others at campaign and community events without masks and without social distancing.
Letlow and his family pictured on December 5 casting their votes at a local elementary school
In one image, posted November 3, Letlow is seen speaking to the media surrounded by supporters holding placards. None of the 17 people depicted – including Lutlow – are wearing a face covering.
Just six days later, at an outdoor campaign event in Washington Parish, Letlow uploaded images to Twitter of him posing for photos with attendees. Once again neither he nor they were wearing facemasks at the time the images were taken.
Other pictures from the event show Letlow speaking in front of the maskless crowd as they sit down for a meal. The vast majority either don’t have, or aren’t wearing, a facemask.
Similarly, at an earlier indoor event on September 12, a maskless Letlow is seen walking inside to be greeted by a group of cheering supporters. A large number of those in attendance, the majority elderly, do appear to be wearing masks.
Then again on October 30, Letlow met with supporters for an event outside of a Big Box Bargains store. While he and the guests pictured were not wearing masks, they did appear to be standing at a social distance.
On other occasions while campaigning, however, Letlow was seen to be wearing a mask, particularly for indoor events.
Pictures posted to his campaign’s since-deleted Facebook page indicate that he’d typically wear a mask for indoor events, but often not for those staged outside.
Letlow, pictured wearing a mask in this photograph is pictures with his wife and two kids last month
In October, during a Congressional seat debate, Letlow also voiced support for states across the US easing lockdown restrictions and reopening their economies – despite the ongoing pandemic.
‘So while we’ve been cautious and I think both the state and federal level have taken numerous precautions for COVID-19,’ he said during the candidate forum. ‘We’re now at a place if we do not open our economy we’re in real danger.’
Letlow also credited President Trump early on in the pandemic for showing ‘tremendous leadership and a remarkable ability to get things done quickly during this national emergency.
Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for Louisiana’s sprawling 5th District U.S. House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.
He secured the seat with a landslide 62 percent of the vote and would have been Rep. Ralph Abraham’s successor who didn’t seek reelection after honoring a pledge to serve a limit of three terms.
He is the first member or member-elect of Congress to die from the coronavirus. It’s unclear whether any of his family has tested positive for the virus.
Letlow and his wife Julia with their two young children in a recent photo they used for their Thanksgiving card
Friends of Letlow have spoken out in shock over his death, remembering him as a champion of rural America who was ‘destined for great things’.
‘He was very uncommon when you compare him to modern-day politicians, especially the younger politicians. He was very rural rooted and he loved being from a rural community,’ Scott Franklin, Letlow’s best friend and campaign chairman, told Insider. ‘He fully understood the struggle that rural America is going through.
‘Luke was going to be the rural champion,’ he continued.
Mike Smith, a longtime friend of Letlow, told WAFB that he was born to be a House Representative.
‘What I found most interesting about Luke was the fact he really cared about people,’ Smith told the network.
‘He was more interested in knowing where they worked and where the family was from and, you know what they did to sustain themselves and how they were maybe in a related and some instances. He was more interested in the people part of politics than the petty part of politics.’
Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to call a special election to fill the now-vacant congressional seat.
The new election will likely be combined with an existing special election in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. That seat is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is joining Joe Biden’s cabinet.
Letlow is pictured with President Trump, who also contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. In April, Letlow tweeted that Trump was ‘defeating COVID’
Letlow’swife Julia has not yet issued a public statement on her husband’s passing. A press conference will be arranged in the new future, a representative said
When he announced his positive test for COVID-19, Letlow joined a list of Louisiana officials who have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, including U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.
On December 21, while hospitalized in Monroe, Letlow urged those who had recovered from the virus to donate plasma to help ‘save lives’.
‘Your plasma is ESPECIALLY needed by those who are suffering,’ he wrote in a tweet. ‘I cannot stress this enough. Please consider saving lives by going out and donating at your local blood bank.’
In a statement announcing his death Tuesday, his campaign manager Andrew Bautsch wrote: ‘Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, passed away this evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport due to complications from COVID-19.
‘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.
Gov. John Bel Edwards offered condolence via Twitter and in a lengthier statement
‘The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time.
‘A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.’
Gov. Edwards offered condolences via Twitter Tuesday night, writing: ‘It is with heavy hearts that @FirstLadyOfLA and I offer our condolences to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s family on his passing after a battle with COVID-19. #lagov.’
‘COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,’ Edwards said in a lengthier statement. ‘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.’
Gov. Edwards said that flags will be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also lamented Letlow’s passing during her weekly press conference Wednesday.
‘[W]e extend great sympathy to his family. So sad. Forty-one years old. Coronavirus blood clot complications,’ Pelosi said.
‘This could have happened to anyone and it has to nearly 350,000 Americans,’ she added.
Letlow had tweeted several times since receiving his diagnosis on December 18th
Letlow appeared to have been preparing for Congress all of his life ever since he was president of the College Republicans at Louisiana Tech University. He is pictured here at the Republican National Convention in 2000
Letlow secured the seat with 62 percent of the vote and would have been Rep. Ralph Abraham’s successor, left, who didn’t seek reelection after honoring a pledge to serve a limit of three terms. The pair are pictured together in August 2020
Letlow spent his career in politics.
He arrived in Abraham’s office in 2014 after a stint working for a Denver energy company in governmental relations but he seemed as though he had been preparing for Congress all of his life ever since he was president of the College Republicans at Louisiana Tech University.
He interned for former Louisiana Republican 5th District Congressman John Cooksey of Monroe and was so keen to be involved after returning home he became Cooksey’s driver in 2001 while still in college.
Letlow then managed to become involved with Bobby Jindal working on his failed 2003 governor’s campaign.
When Jindal finally became Louisiana’s Republican Governor from 2008 to 2016, Letlow was there once again, working as a senior staffer for the young governor during his first term.
Jindal tweeted his condolences on Tuesday night.
‘Supriya and I are heartbroken to learn of @LukeLetlow’s passing. Luke has been a good friend for so many years, and we are saddened he was taken from us at such a young age. We had talked in recent days about his excitement about the opportunity to serve the people of the 5th Congressional district, and his love and devotion for Julia and their kids.
‘I first met Luke when he was still a college student, and spent countless hours with him in his truck driving the back roads of Louisiana. His passion for service has been a constant throughout his life. He truly enjoyed meeting people, learning about them, and helping them. We keep Luke, his family, and especially his young children in our prayers,’ Jindal wrote.
Letlow is pictured at another campaign event alongside some prospective voters
Letlow then managed to become involved with Bobby Jindal working on his failed 2003 governor’s campaign and then as a senior staff from 2008
Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, Phd., and two young children. The couple are shown above on their wedding day in 2013
Letlow is pictured in July after signing up to run for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Letlow was able to connect Jindal with Louisiana’s rural voters.
He took him to Protestant churches, volunteer fire stations and convenience stores at country crossroads in northern and central Louisiana according to The News-Star.
‘In his first campaign Bobby had trouble connecting with rural voters; we changed that in 2007,’ said Letlow.
‘Those were exciting times,’ he said. ‘Bobby was young and brilliant and energetic. It was an electric atmosphere.’
Just two years into Jindal’s first term as governor Letlow left the team abruptly after sensing that Jindal’s focus was shifting to national politics and a possible presidential bid.
‘There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t a path I wanted to take even though I thought he might win,’ he said.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk