Tags: 2020 Elections | Coronavirus | Health Topics | Vaccines | Cold/Flu | luke letlow | heart attack

Letlow Died of Heart Attack After COVID-Related Surgery

luke letlow appears before a hearing
The late Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La. (Melinda Deslatte/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 December 2020 04:45 PM

Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., died of a heart attack after a procedure to address COVID-related illness, according to medical officials at his hospital.

"It's devastating to our entire team," LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali told the Monroe News-Star, noting the 41-year-old incoming congressman had a heart attack after surgery.

"He had no underlying conditions," Ghali said. "It was just COVID."

The death of a newly elected U.S. representative from Louisiana of complications related to COVID-19 stunned the state's political circles Wednesday and became the latest brutal reminder of how dangerous the coronavirus can be.

Luke Letlow died Tuesday night at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport — days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office, according to his spokesman Andrew Bautsch. Bautsch asked for privacy for Letlow's family "during this difficult and unexpected time."

Only weeks after Letlow was elected, state officials Wednesday began discussing logistics for a special election to fill the seat again.

Louisiana's eight-member congressional delegation called Letlow's death devastating. As condolences poured in, many officials expressed shock and focused on the pandemic's deadly toll.

Louisiana state House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Republican, issued a statement mourning Letlow's death and saying: "This pandemic is real and it's taken too many of our loved ones. Too many husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons."

Gov. John Bel Edwards intends to call a March special election to fill the congressional seat, according to his spokeswoman, Christina Stephens.

Letlow was admitted to a Monroe hospital Dec. 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was later transferred to the Shreveport facility and placed in intensive care.

Photos posted on social media from campaign events show Letlow sometimes wearing a mask when interacting with potential voters, but other times — including at his victory party, two weeks before his hospitalization — without a face covering as he posed for pictures with supporters.

Hailing from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, Letlow 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. He would have been sworn in next week.

Letlow is one of more than 7,000 people in Louisiana who have died from COVID-19 since March, according to data from the state health department.

Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., died of a heart attack after a procedure to address COVID-related illness, according to medical officials at his hospital.
luke letlow, heart attack, surgery, covid-19, pandemic, comorbidities
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 04:45 PM
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