Brigham & Women’s doc: COVID-death of congressman-elect is not an outlier

Following the COVID-19 death of a 41-year-old congressman-elect from Louisiana, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital emergency physician is dispelling the notion that the pandemic has not caused widespread fatalities for younger people who contract the virus.

“A 41-year-old Congressman-elect from Louisiana has died of COVID-19,” Dr. Jeremy Faust, who also teaches at Harvard Medical School, wrote in a Twitter thread early Wednesday morning. “But this kind of thing has been happening all along.”

The post arrived hours after the death of Luke Letlow, who was slated to take office next month as a Republican member of the U.S. House, was announced Tuesday night.

Letlow was admitted to a hospital in Monroe on Dec. 19 after testing positive for coronavirus, according to the Associated Press. He was ultimately transferred to and placed in intensive care at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport, where he later died.

While older people and those with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk of more severe illness brought on by COVID-19, younger generations have also felt the fatal impacts of the health crisis, according to Faust. (Letlow reportedly did not suffer from any underlying health conditions that would have increased his risk of coronavirus complications.)

In a recent article co-authored by Faust, researchers found “that thousands of young adults have died of COVID-19 and that thousands more have died of other causes during the pandemic,” he explained on social media.

The report found that from March 1 through July 31, “all-cause” deaths for adults between 25 and 44 years old in the United States totaled 76,088 — 11,899 more than the 64,189 deaths expected to occur in that timeframe.

“Things have gotten much WORSE since re-opening,” Faust wrote. “Do not attempt to blame lockdowns” or an increase in suicides, he wrote. “Data do not support that.”

He added in a later tweet: “The notion that this pandemic hasn’t been harming young people is a result of many things. One is that the infection fatality rate IS a lot lower in younger adults than seniors. BUT… With enough infections, it adds up. This surprised me when I saw the data coming together.”

Faust wondered whether Letlow’s death would inspire more people to take the virus seriously.

He noted that Letlow was a “young, healthy white Congressman.” There have been thousands of others like him — most of them Black or Hispanic, he wrote.

“It should not take this tragic loss,” he wrote.

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