In the Biden administration everything is driven by identity politics. The nominee for Interior Secretary is someone who supports an anti-American North Korean front group and is supported by the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA). All that matters, though, is that she is Native American.
The new Treasury Secretary is completely compromised by the same financiers and Wall Street firms she is now expected to control and regulate. Never mind. She is female.
So, it is with Rachel Levine, Biden’s choice for Assistant Health Secretary. Levine, as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, presided over a COVID-19 nursing home debacle in Pennsylvania perhaps only second to that in New York State. Levine has very problematic views about gender transition related surgery and hormone treatment for minors. No big deal. Levine is transgender. That is all that counts.
Let’s pretend, though, for a moment that we actually consider a person’s qualifications for a job to be of interest. Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that maybe we want to know something about the character of a nominee before accepting them for a senior position in the federal government. How does Levine stack up then?
On March 18, 2020, Levine’s Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a document entitled Interim Guidance for Nursing Facilities During COVID-19 (3/18/20). The document provided instructions for nursing home facilities in Pennsylvania “regarding best practices in nursing homes” related to COVID-19. The document stated in part, “Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings. This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.”
In short, just as in New York, nursing homes were required to readmit COVID-19 patients and continue to care for them in their facilities.
The results were catastrophic. A nurse at a Pennsylvania nursing home who was interviewed anonymously by a local television station had these comments on what ensued.
“By the time they found maybe one or two people who had positive tests, within a day or two those numbers doubled, tripled sometimes quadrupled.”
“Honestly, there were some days where in a 12-hour shift there would be 10 to 15 people that would die. That was just hard as a nurse to watch day in and day out.”
“There would be no direction for anybody. You would show up at a facility and the director of nursing or anybody that probably should’ve been more prepared and have the knowledge really didn’t know what to do, didn’t know where to start, didn’t know where to direct people where to go.”
Six of the 10 long-term care facilities with the most COVID-19 deaths nationwide are in Pennsylvania. Two-thirds of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths have been at long-term care facilities. To date, over 12,000 residents of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes have died of COVID-19.
Levine’s decision pushed thousands of nursing home residents infected with COVID-19 back into facilities that were never designed for the control of a highly infectious disease. As noted above, the impact was immediate and clear. Levine, not blind to the results of the policy swung into action. She did not reverse course or implement new control measures. She moved her own mother, who was a resident of a state assisted living facility out and into a hotel.
When confronted about the rank hypocrisy of the move, Levine never flinched. She didn’t apologize. She didn’t claim there had been some misunderstanding.
“My mother requested and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location,” Levine said at a press conference, responding to a question from ABC27, during the COVID-19 outbreak. “My mother is 95 years old. he is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”
Levine then went on to note that technically the home her mother had been in was not a nursing home but a personal care home, which fell under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Human Services not the Department of Health. How that impacted the morality of her decision to move her own mother to safety while condemning so many others to death remains unclear.
The bill for Levine’s incompetence is now coming due. The Justice Department recently announced that it had requested data from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan as part of an investigation into orders issued in these states, which “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.” The Justice Department announcement specifically stated that these states “required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.”
Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers have also announced their own inquiry into nursing home deaths in the state. Those lawmakers, led by House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, say they are still trying to get answers as to why so many died and why Levine’s Department of Health made the decisions it did.
“Pennsylvanians and their families are left with only excuses or deflections from an administration that has been anything but transparent on this issue,” Benninghoff said.
You may choose, like the Biden administration to continue to believe that what really matters about a person is their gender, sexual orientation or the color of their skin. I’m going to employ a different standard. I’m going to venture that when picking appointees to senior federal positions we ought to look at character, competence and experience. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that in picking someone to serve as the Assistant Health Secretary we should select an individual with a demonstrated record of accomplishment and success.
Rachel Levine isn’t that person. She’s a disgrace.