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Texas GOP Rep. Ron Wright died on Sunday following his COVID-19 diagnosis last month, making him the first sitting member of Congress to pass after contracting the virus. The 67-year-old had also been battling cancer.
“Congressman Ron Wright passed away peacefully at the age of 67,” his office said in a statement released on Monday. “For the previous two weeks, Ron and [his wife] Susan had been admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas after contracting Covid-19.”
Wright first revealed his coronavirus diagnosis on Jan. 21, and said at the time he had only been experiencing “minor symptoms.” His office told NBC News Wright “passed away from health complications following his COVID-19 diagnosis.”
Wright had been re-elected to a second term in the 2020 elections, and was in his role for about two weeks before his diagnosis came. “Our hearts are heavy with the news of Ron’s passing,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday. “[Wright] emulated the best of America, and we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to call him a colleague and a friend. … Judy and I send our heartfelt prayers to susan and their children during this very difficult time.”
Ron Wright was hospitalized due to complications from his cancer treatment last September. He represented Texas’ 6th Congressional District, and was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. His most recent appearance to cast a vote on the House floor was on Jan. 13. He’s not the only Republican to have died following a COVID-19 diagnosis, as 41-year-old Louisana congressman-elect Luke Letlow died in December just days before the start of the new Congress. Hermain Cain also died last year from coronavirus complications at the age of 74.
Prior to his death on Sunday, Wright had pushed for the reopening of schools despite rising confirmed cases. “Democrats are choosing teachers unions and special interests over the well-being of our students,” his account tweeted. “The CDC says schools can safely re-open if proper precautions are taken. What are we waiting for?”
Read responses to Wright’s death below.