Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin. AP Photo/Steve Helber

Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin died on Friday from complications related to COVID-19, according his state legislative office.

Chafin, a Republican who represented a rural district in Southwest Virginia, was 60 years old.

“Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate — and we have all lost a good man,” said Gov. Ralph Northam in a written statement.

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Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin died on Friday from complications related to COVID-19, according his state legislative office.

Chafin, a Republican who represented a rural district in Southwest Virginia, was 60 years old.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, who confirmed Chafin’s death, immediately issued words of praise for the senator, who was elected to the state’s House of Delegates in 2013 before joining the Senate in 2014.

Chafin, an attorney, had been hospitalized with the coronavirus for roughly two weeks before his death. While several Virginia state legislators have contracted the highly infectious disease, he is the first Virginia lawmaker to pass away from complications related to the coronavirus, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate – and we have all lost a good man,” Northam expressed in a written statement. “I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him. 

Chafin’s Republican and Democratic colleagues saluted his life and service to the commonwealth.

“Ben was deeply and wholeheartedly committed to the commonwealth, and especially to the people of Southwest Virginia,” said state Senate GOP leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. in a statement. “He put the interests of those he was entrusted to serve first, cherishing the people of the region he proudly called ‘home.'”

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“We grieve the loss of our colleague and friend, Senator Ben Chafin,” said the Democratic Senate caucus in a statement. “He was a passionate leader who represented his constituents of the 38th District in Southwest Virginia with such compassion, strength, and thoughtfulness.”

Chafin is survived by his wife, Lora and their three children, along with his sister and grandchildren.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been roughly 355,000 confirmed infections and over 5,000 deaths in Virginia, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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