Letlow announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Dec. 18, the Monroe News-Star reported, and initially quarantined at his home in Richland Parish in northeastern Louisiana. By the next day, he was admitted to the hospital with worsening symptoms and later transferred to Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport.
He’s survived by two young children and his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, the News-Star reported.
State and national political leaders mourned his death on Tuesday night.
“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), in a statement shared on Twitter. “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.”
Before joining Abraham as his chief of staff, Letlow worked for former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who praised his “passion for service.”
“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,” Jindal said on Twitter. “His passion for service has been a constant throughout his life.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted Letlow’s devotion to public service.
“Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth generation Louisianan who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service,” Pelosi said in a statement. “As the House grieves Congressman-elect Letlow’s passing, our sorrow is compounded by the grief of so many other families who have also suffered lives cut short by this terrible virus.”
Louisiana’s Congressional delegation, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R), released a joint statement praising Letlow’s “positive spirit.”
“We are devastated to hear of Luke Letlow’s passing. Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him,” the statement said. “More than anything, Luke was a loving husband, father, brother, and son, and his family — like so many others who have been affected by this evil disease — needs our prayers.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he spoke to Letlow’s family after he died.
“Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing,” he wrote on Twitter. “I spoke with his wife, Julia. Judy and I are praying for her and their two young children during this terrible time.”