The Lead

Biden taps Pa. Health Secretary Levine for federal post

By: - January 19, 2021 7:33 am

Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine speaks at the virtual media briefing. The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., January 4, that there were 3,226 additional positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to 4,579 new cases reported Sunday, January 3 for a two-day total of 8,992 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 665,097. The case counts today are atypically low as a result of technical maintenance to the data server on Sunday. This technical maintenance did not impact the death reporting system on Sunday or Monday as the death data comes from a different server. Harrisburg, PA – January 04, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania’s top public health official for a cabinet-level post, the incoming administration said early Tuesday.

Biden has named state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine as his assistant health secretary, putting her on track to become the first openly transgender official to face confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

In a statement, Biden said Levine, a pediatrician by training, 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.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called Levine “a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people. President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Levine was named the state’s physician general in 2015 by Gov. Tom Wolf, ascending to acting health secretary in 2017. She won Senate confirmation as health secretary in 2018.

Levine has faced both criticism and praise for her management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Keystone State. As a transgender woman, she’s been the subject of online bigotry that she’s forcefully batted back.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.