COVID Scandal Follows Biden's Pick for Assistant Secretary of Health

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Posted: Jan 19, 2021 10:45 AM
COVID Scandal Follows Biden's Pick for Assistant Secretary of Health

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health in his incoming administration. If given the green light, Levine would be the first transgender federal official to be Senate confirmed.

But like so many figures in the public eye during this pandemic, Levine was essentially called out as a privileged hypocrite for apparently circumventing her own state's guidelines. In March, she and her sister moved their 95-year-old mother out of a personal care home after a few positive COVID cases had been reported in the facility. The move also came after Levine had ordered COVID patients to be moved into nursing homes.

In May, about 65 percent of coronavirus deaths were nursing-home residents, and in counties in the hardest hit southeastern part of the state, long-term care residents account for as much as 80 percent of county deaths, reported the Bucks County Courier Times, two months after the state's nursing home order.

At the time, several lawmakers called for Levine's resignation, with York County Republican state Rep. Seth Grove noting that Levine was taking advantage of a privilege that many Pennsylvanians can't afford.

Levin defended herself by explaining that personal care homes are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Human Services, not her agency. She also said that it was her mother who made the transfer request.

“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied, to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dr. Levine said. “My mother is 95 years old, she is very intelligent, and more than competent to make her own decisions.”

As we've extensively reported, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been condemned for his own March 25 mandate that forced recovering COVID patients into nursing homes. To this day his administration has not released an accurate number of COVID-related nursing home deaths.

Critics are wondering if this is the best Biden can do.