Biden picks Transgender Woman as Assistant Health Security

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Eske Campen, staff

On January 19, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She’s written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ medicine. 

 

Biden and his transition team have already begun negotiating with members of Congress, promoting speedy passage of the president-elect’s $1.9 trillion plan to bring the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 400,000 people in the United States, under control. Businessman Jeff Zients is Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, while Biden picked infectious-disease specialist Rochelle Walensky to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, and Yale epidemiologist Marcella Nunez-Smith to head a working group to ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments. The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will also work closely with the Biden administration.

 

  A transition spokesperson also said Tuesday that Dawn O’Connell will serve as senior counselor for coronavirus response to the health and human services secretary. O’Connell most recently served as director of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and was the senior counselor and deputy chief of staff to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell during the Obama administration.