Republican Luke Letlow, a representative-elect from Louisiana, died of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Letlow had been elected to Louisiana's 5th district and was due to be sworn in on Sunday. The Republican leader is the first member of the Congress to succumb to the coronavirus.

The 41-year-old had on December 18 announced that he had contracted the disease. Since then, he had been in the intensive care unit at the Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport.

Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two young children. In a statement, the family said that they appreciate the numerous prayers and support. "The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time," Letlow's family said.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also offered his condolences to Lewtlow's family. "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," Edwards posted 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," Edwards said.

The US has seen a troubling surge in coronavirus cases in recent months. As of Monday evening, the country had recorded 19,526,228 cases with 337,918 deaths, both by far the worst tolls in the world.