Former Pennsylvania Health Secretary appears before Senate committee for confirmation of new role

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden nominated Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary in January.

She told lawmakers she would help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, but faced criticism from Republicans about Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout and the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

“What you do have to understand that there is a lag time from the time that a tragic death would occur to the time that it hits our electronic death reporting system, and then we would report that death and that lag time could be sometimes day but sometimes weeks,” Dr. Levine said.

Senators also questioned her on school reopening guidelines and business closures during the pandemic.

Dr. Levine is making history as the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

This comes as a new survey showed more people are identifying as LGBTQ than ever before.

The Gallup poll found nearly 6% of adults identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, which is up from 4.5% in 2017.