Congressman Ron Wright has died after contracting COVID-19. Picture: US Congress
Congressman Ron Wright has died after contracting COVID-19. Picture: US Congress

US Congressman dies after catching COVID

A member of Congress in the United States has died after being hospitalised with the coronavirus.

Congressman Ron Wright, who was elected to represent Texas's sixth congressional district in 2018, "passed away peacefully" yesterday with his wife Susan at his side. He was 67.

He is survived by his children Derek, Justin and Rachel, along with nine grandchildren.

Mr Wright had spent the past year battling lung cancer before he contracted COVID-19. He was admitted to hospital in Dallas, Texas after the diagnosis.

He is the first sitting member of Congress to die from the virus. Luke Letlow, a congressman-elect from Louisiana, had not yet been seated when he died in late December at the age of 41.

In a statement released to the media, Mr Wright's office hailed his determination to continue working despite his health troubles.

"Over the past few years, Congressman Wright had kept a rigorous work schedule on the floor of the House and at home in Texas's sixth congressional district while being treated for cancer," it said.

"For the previous two weeks, Ron and Susan had been admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas after contracting COVID-19."

His staff said he would be remembered as a constitutional conservative and a "statesman, not an ideologue".

"As friends, family and many of his constituents will know, Ron maintained his quick wit and optimism until the very end. Despite years of painful, sometimes debilitating treatment for cancer, Ron never lacked the desire to get up and go to work, to motivate those around him, or to offer fatherly advice," said the statement.

"We ask that everyone give Susan and the entire Wright family and staff time to grieve."

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who leads the Republican caucus, praised Mr Wright as a "fighter" who passionately served his constituents.

"He led with principle, integrity and thoughtfulness," said Mr McCarthy.

"For Ron, public service was more than a job, it was a calling. The difference he was able to make over the past two decades will continue to live on in every life he impacted. Throughout his time in Congress, he worked to save small businesses, honour our veterans and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

"He emulated the very best of America, and we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to call him a colleague and a friend."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also released a statement, in which he said he was sending his prayers to Mr Wright's family and loved ones.

"I am deeply saddened," Mr Abbott said.

"Ron was a principled leader who fought to preserve Texas values, and was an exemplary representative of his district.

"His personal strength and commitment to standing up for the unborn were unwavering. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy for future generations of Texans."

When Mr Wright was first diagnosed with the virus in January, he said he was only experiencing minor symptoms.

"I feel OK and will continue working for the people of the district from home," he announced at the time, on January 21.

"I encourage everyone to keep following CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and want to thank all the medical professionals on the front lines who fight this virus head on every single day."

Mr Wright was also hospitalised last September due to complications from his lung cancer treatment.

Originally published as US Congressman dies after catching COVID


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