New Hampshire Speaker of the House Richard “Dick” Hinch died from Covid-19, the state attorney general’s office announced.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s office said in a statement Thursday that the state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Jennie V. Duval, had determined the Republican’s death Wednesday was due to the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hinch was 71.
“During this difficult time, the family has requested that their privacy continue to be respected,” the statement read.
The late Republican speaker had been elected to the post on December 2. Hinch, who was first elected to the chamber in 2008, previously served as New Hampshire’s House Republican leader from 2018 to 2020 and as House majority leader from 2015 to 2018.
“We ask that Speaker Hinch’s family be given the highest level of privacy and respect as they deal with this unexpected tragedy. There are no details to share at this time, however, I would ask that you please keep Speaker Hinch’s wife Pat, and their children in your warm wishes,” his office said in a statement on Wednesday.
New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has directed all flags on public buildings and grounds in the state to fly at half-staff, and he said in his own statement that Hinch was “a respected public servant.”
“Profoundly sad to learn of the passing of Speaker Dick Hinch,” Sununu said. “Speaker Hinch was a fierce defender of the New Hampshire Advantage, a close friend, and a respected public servant. His loss will be greatly felt by the people of this state.”
Sununu said later Thursday that Hinch’s passing is a reminder that the virus still poses a great threat to all people.
“Really just a stark reminder, unfortunately, that this virus really doesn’t care if you’re in a long-term care facility or if you’re an elected official,” he said at a news conference. “No one is immune.”
Hinch’s death comes as the coronavirus ravages the country, and he is among the 3,124 Americans who died from the virus on Wednesday, a record-setting day for the pandemic in the US.
Hinch served in the Navy from 1968 to 1972, according to his biography, which says he worked as a Realtor and served for a time as New Hampshire’s real estate commissioner.
This story has been updated with further comments from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
CNN’s Anna Sturla contributed to this report.