Mourners Remember Congressman-Elect Luke Letlow's ‘Genuineness’ After He Died of COVID-19

Luke Letlow, the Louisiana congressman-elect who died last week of COVID-19, was remembered this weekend as a loving father and dedicated public servant.

Letlow, a Republican who was set to take his oath of office on Sunday, died last Tuesday while in the hospital with the disease.

He tested positive for the coronavirus on Dec. 18 and announced he had been hospitalized three days later. Letlow was 41 and is survived by his wife, Julia Letlow, and their two children, Jeremiah, 3, and Jacqueline, 1.

The Associated Press reported more than 200 people gathered for a memorial service Saturday at North Monroe Baptist Church, while lawmakers continued honoring Letlow’s life Sunday when the 117th Congress reconvened for the new year.

“The tributes speak to his genuineness, his work ethic, his playful spirit, his love for Louisiana and his love for people,” Jonathan S. Wagner, a pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church who spoke during the service, said. “He was a great man and it was a great privilege to have known him.”

Some congressional lawmakers tweeted out pictures of a yellow Louisiana state pin many wore to honor Letlow’s life while being sworn in on Sunday.

“Our prayers are with Julia and the rest of Luke’s family in this difficult time,” Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a moment of silence for Letlow during her remarks Sunday and said Congress was sending "our deepest sympathy to his wife, Julia, and their children and are praying for them at this sad time."

Louisiana has had 7,537 deaths due to COVID-19, according to a New York Times tracker, while at least 321,058 cases have been confirmed in the state.

Letlow is reportedly the first member or member-elect of Congress to die from the coronavirus, which has killed 351,682 people and infected more than 20.6 million nationwide, according to the latest Times data.

The representative-elect had announced he was receiving treatment at St. Francis Hospital on Dec. 21, before his spokesperson announced two days later he was being transferred to the Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center, where he was receiving Remdesivir and steroids.

Following his death last week, Louisiana John Bel Edwards said flags would be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow's funeral.

“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” the governor said in a 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.”

Letlow had previously served as chief of staff to Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Louisiana, and would’ve filled his seat serving the state's fifth congressional district after winning a runoff election last month.

Abraham, 66, spoke Saturday at Letlow’s memorial and called him “a gentleman who cared about nothing but others.”

“He was a true servant’s servant,” Abraham said. “We never want to forget what he’s done for our state, what he’s done for me and my family.”

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