Joe Biden has selected Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, positioning her to become the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate.
“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,” Biden said in a press release. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
But this selection certainly does not come without controversy.
Pennsylvania is one of many states witnessing catastrophic COVID-19 death rates, specifically in nursing homes and long-term care facilities for the elderly. Nearly 70 percent have occurred in these facilities.
Despite this, on March 18, Levine directed licensed long-term care facilities to continue admitting new patients, including those discharged from hospitals. “This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus,” the guidelines read.
At the time, of the state’s 3,806 deaths, 2,611 had occured in nursing homes and long term care facilities.
It gets worse.
After harshly ordering these facilities to accept coronavirus patients and risk even more loss, she moved her 95-year-old mother from her personal care home.
Amid backlash and calls to resign, she defended her decision, saying her mother requested the move.
“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied, to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Levine said.
“My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more competent to make her own decisions,” Levine added.
To recap: Joe Biden is placing the responsibility of overseeing the Health Department's key public health offices and programs; a number of Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees; 10 regional health offices across the nation; the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on the shoulders of the person who contributed to the wildfire spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania nursing homes.
If Biden is looking for a way to stop the spread of COVID-19, this doesn't seem like the best way to start.