Minnesota state lawmaker dies of COVID-19 complications

Minnesota state lawmaker Jerry Relph (R) died on Friday of complications from the coronavirus, according to family and the state's Senate majority leader.

Relph, who was a first-term state senator, is reportedly the first lawmaker from the state whose death is connected to COVID-19, according to MPR News.

“Jerry dedicated his life to service, and representing Senate District 14 was one of the highest honors he had,” his wife, Pegi Broker-Relph, said in a statement, according to MPR News. “I can’t count the number of times he would come home at night and tell me about helping solve a constituent’s problem, or a story he heard from someone in a parade or at a public event, or even just someone he met during a ‘day on the hill’ event. He loved serving the people of St. Cloud in the Senate, and he cherished every minute of it.”

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He was elected in 2016 to the Minnesota Senate, where he filled a vacant seat after the incumbent did not seek reelection. He narrowly defeated Dan Wolgamott, who now serves in the Minnesota House. Relph was 76 years old and a Vietnam War veteran.

The lawmaker went to the emergency room twice in November for coronavirus-related symptoms but was never hospitalized, even after a positive diagnosis. Following that, his family remained private about Relph's condition, the news outlet reported. 

State lawmakers shared their condolences and memories of Relph on social media.

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He is survived by his wife, four stepchildren and two adult children, MPR News reported.