Forty-one-year-old Luke Letlow, Louisiana’s newest Republican member of Congress, has died from COVID-19-related complications.
He would have been sworn into office on Monday, Jan. 4.
The incoming congressman was elected in a runoff election on Dec. 5. Just weeks later on Dec. 18, he announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, and the next day he was admitted to a Monroe, LA, hospital.
Health officials later transferred Letlow to an intensive care unit at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport.
A doctor there told The Advocate that Letlow had no underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk.
Letlow’s death comes as COVID hospitalizations are once again surging. Southern California is one of the hardest-hit areas with Los Angeles county reporting 600 percent in COVID-19 deaths since November.
There’s also concern about a new variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in the UK, and now reported in the US.
Health officials in Colorado have announced the first known case in the US, a man in his 20’s who has not recently traveled. He’s recovering in isolation.
The CDC says it expects more cases of the new variant in the days ahead. Health officials in Britain believe it’s more contagious, but they also cite research that shows it’s not more deadly. Authorities believe the vaccine will be effective against it.
On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden warned about the pace of the vaccination campaign.
The Trump administration had promised 20 million doses by the end of the year, but so far, only 2.1 million have been administered.
“If it continues to move as it is now, it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people,” Biden said.
The Trump administration says there’s a lag in reporting and has emphasized that the federal government is limited in how much it can do.
Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, said the government relies on state and local government for implementation.
“The federal government doesn’t invade Texas or Montana and provide shots to people,” he said. “We support the state and locals doing that.”
Many Americans are anxiously awaiting their stimulus checks, even as Congress debates the actual amount.
The administration says that $600 stimulus checks are on the way and that people should look for them starting next week.
The president wants to increase the amount to $2,000, but he’s facing resistance in the Senate, despite support from some GOP members like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Georgia’s two senators.
Other GOP senators, however, are worried about more spending, even as they fear bucking the president.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a move to bring the increase up for a vote.