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Biden picks transgender Jewish woman as assistant US health secretary


President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, 19 January, nominated Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine for assistant secretary of health, making her the first openly transgender federal official to be up for senate confirmation.

A Harvard and Tulane-educated paediatrician, Levine emerged as the public face of her state’s pandemic response while also serving as president of the association of state and territorial health officials. She was appointed to her current post by democratic governor Tom Wolf in 2017 and has written on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.

“Dr Rachel Levine will bring 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 statement about the nomination.

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.

It seeks to enlist federal emergency personnel to run mass vaccination centers and provide 100 immunization shots in his administration’s first 100 days while using government spending to stimulate the pandemic-hammered economy,

Biden also says that, in one of his first acts as president, he’ll ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to slow the virus spread.

Levine who is Jewish, joins Biden’s health and human services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, a Latino politician to serve in congress and as California’s attorney general.

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