“No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew and loved him.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, an outspoken Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, announced Monday night that her father died from complications of COVID-19.
“It is with tremendous sadness and pain to say goodbye to my father, Nur Omar Mohamed,” she said on Twitter. “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew and loved him.”
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, included an Arabic phrase and its English translation from the Quran: “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”
The congresswoman sought asylum in the United States with her father in the 1990s. He was 67 when he died in Minneapolis.
The news comes the same day a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a more comprehensive look at COVID-19 trends. The latest data confirm that older people, minorities, and those with pre-existing health conditions are at the highest risk of death.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be severe, particularly in certain population groups,” the report’s authors write.
Several members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 or coronavirus antibodies since the pandemic began, according to the New York Times. Rep. Tom Rice, a South Carolina Republican, said in a statement Monday that he, his son and his wife are recovering from COVID-19. Rice refused to wear a mask during an appearance on the House floor two weeks ago, insisting he could maintain a six-foot distance from everyone and therefore didn’t need it.
Other lawmakers have lost close family members. Donald Reed Herring, brother of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, died in April, and California Rep. Maxine Waters dedicated her fight for a coronavirus relief package to her ill sister that same month. Velma Moody died in May.
“While I’m sitting here, my sister’s viewing is going on today in St. Louis,” Waters said during a hearing of the House Oversight Committee’s coronavirus committee. “Many families have been touched, and so I’m hopeful that we can all get together, Democrats and Republicans, and deal with this pandemic.”