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State Rep. Reggie Bagala Dies Of COVID-19 At Age 54

State Rep. Reggie Bagala, who represented portions of Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle, died Thursday after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19.

Bagala, R-Cut Off, was one month into his career as a state lawmaker when he died. He was 54.

Bagala’s son announced his father’s death through a post on Facebook, where he had provided periodic updates on his father’s condition since his diagnosis last month. The New Orleans Advocate | Times-Picayune reported that Bagala had been placed on a ventilator last week.

Tristan Paul Bagala remembered his father as a “profoundly honest and decent man” and a “pillar of our community and an example of the values we hold dearest.”

Before running to be a state representative, Bagala was the Legislative Auditor for Lafourche Parish. He previously served as parish administrator. In October, Bagala beat out two other candidates for his seat, winning 58 percent of the vote.

Rep. Blake Miguez and State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, leaders of the Republican Legislative Delegation, praised Bagala as a “strong conservative voice and community leader.”

“Each of us hope to serve our state with his same passion and dedication,” they wrote Thursday. “We thank him for his lifetime of community and public service and ask you to please join us in praying for his family and friends.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards remembered the first-term lawmaker as a successful businessman, devoted family man and active volunteer.

“Just one month ago, he entered the Louisiana State Capitol with excitement and eagerness to serve the people of our great state and the people of House District 54, and today we mourn his loss,” Edwards said in a written statement. “We are better for having people like Rep. Bagala, who are willing to be public servants and make our state better.

Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson wrote on Facebook, “There aren’t any words to express what our community lost today. The thoughts and prayers of our parish are with his family tonight as we mourn the loss of such a great man and friend.”

Bagala is the first member of the Louisiana Legislature to die from the coronavirus. Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge was hospitalized with pneumonia and COVID-19 last week, but has returned home and is expected to make a full recovery.

On March 31, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez decided to legislative proceedings on hold and adjourn indefinitely to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Paul Braun was WRKF's Capitol Access reporter, from 2019 through 2023.