Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, died early this morning. Family says it was from complications due to COVID.
(FOX news) - Gen. Colin Powell, the influential former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who played a pivotal policy role during the administration of then-President George W. Bush, died Monday at 84 from complications related to COVID-19, his family announced.
“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
— THE POWELL FAMILY
At 84, Powell was already more susceptible to a severe COVID-19 infection because he was older than 65. But the statement from Powell's family did not note that he suffered from a serious medical condition that left him even more vulnerable to the virus.
Both CNN and NBC News report that Powell was suffering from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that affects white blood cells. White blood cells are an essential part of the body's immune system, which fights off diseases or viruses when they enter the body.
Because he was suffering from a decreased immune system, Powell was part of the 3% of the adult population in the U.S. who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as "immunocompromised."
According to the CDC, immunocompromised people are more at risk of contracting "serious, prolonged" cases of COVID-19 even after vaccination. The agency also notes that fully vaccinated immunocompromised people account for a "large proportion" of breakthrough hospitalizations.
Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, served in Bush's Cabinet from 2001-2005, including during the tumultuous years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Colin Luther Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx, Powell attended school at the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel.
Powell was a professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush's first secretary of state, he was reported to have pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a "blot" on his record.
Bush said in a statement today that Powell was "a great public servant" who was "such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush's secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession.