Dr. Rachel Levine

Biden Nominates Dr. Rachel Levine U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health

Levine would become the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

In a statement, Biden said, “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic, no matter their ZIP code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond. She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Dr. Rachel Levine

Levine was appointed state health secretary by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017 and has become the face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wolf released the following statement Tuesday morning:

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Rachel Levine on her appointment by President-Elect Biden to serve as his assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Dr. Levine is a highly skilled and valued member of my administration and she will be greatly missed. She has been a wise and dedicated partner during this pandemic and throughout her career with the commonwealth. I couldn’t be prouder of the tireless work she’s done to serve Pennsylvanians and protect the public health.

“During her tenure at the Department of Health, Dr. Levine was instrumental in establishing the state’s medical marijuana program, bringing national awareness to opioid use disorder, and highlighting and promoting the need for adequate medical care and access for the LGBTQ community. Over the past year, her steady hand and calm approach were critical to managing Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Her work for our commonwealth has been transformational and I appreciate it more than I can say. I and the people of Pennsylvania owe her a debt of gratitude for her leadership, strength and dedication to protecting every person’s health amid unprecedented circumstances – and, at times, amid hateful distractions. Dr. Levine is both competent and compassionate, and never lets the anger or fear of others sway her from her goals.

“Thank you, Dr. Levine, for your commitment, your example, and your legacy.”

Levine came under scrutiny from Pennsylvania lawmakers on decisions in bringing COVID-19 patients from hospitals back into long term care facilities, which saw increases in deaths to the most vulnerable.

Back in mid-May, in a news conference about the nursing home response Pennsylvania state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said:

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have protected residents living in these facilities by ensuring resident’s safety by mitigating the virus, partnering with state agencies, local health departments and long-term facility care operators.”

Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities were hit hard and some needed the help of the National Guard.

The Department of Health says that as of January 18, 2021, 10,022 people have died in long term care facilities throughout Pennsylvania due to COVID-19.

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