May. 19, 2020

HARRISBURG - Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) has introduced House Resolution 879, which urges the immediate removal or resignation of Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine in response to the horrific results of the department’s COVID-19 policy in regard to nursing homes and other facilities where Levine has direct oversight. As of May 15, 2,991 of Pennsylvania's 4,342 COVID-19 deaths, or 68.8%, occurred in such facilities.

The scope of the nursing home disaster did not become apparent to the public until House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) pressured Levine into releasing more details regarding the number of deaths in such facilities under state oversight, the comorbidities associated with those deaths, and further data associated with the COVID-19 escalation inside those facilities. Levine only partially provided the requested information and did so nearly a month after the request was made.

“Dr. Levine's resistance to release data and her non-cooperation with co-workers, in this case a co-equal branch of government, would never be considered acceptable business management practices in the private sector,” said Diamond. “When lives were on the line in Pennsylvania, Levine did not sufficiently answer the call to public service and her duty to carry out appropriate control measures to limit the spread of disease in order to protect all Pennsylvanians. What makes matters worse is that we're talking about the most vulnerable among us.”

Diamond believes the initial U.S. reports of a COVID-19 outbreak report from Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., a week prior to Wolf's March 6 disaster emergency declaration should have been instructional to Levine.

“We all saw national news reports of dozens of residents and first responders testing positive, being quarantined and becoming gravely ill in Washington,” Diamond added. “Instead of heeding that clear warning, Dr. Levine instituted Department of Health policies which halted routine inspections and issued guidance for nursing facilities to admit and readmit patients who tested positive for COVID-19,” added Diamond. “For the vulnerable Pennsylvanians residing in those facilities, it's like they were being forced to live within a ticking time bomb.”

Diamond further expressed grave concern over last week's disturbing revelation that at some point during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Levine removed her own mother from a central Pennsylvania personal care home and checked her into a premium hotel, but did not reveal that fact nor her reasons to the general public until questioned by ABC27 reporters.

“For these reasons and more, I have introduced House Resolution 879. I ask my colleagues for their full support. Dr. Levine serves at the pleasure of Gov. Tom Wolf and I urge him to answer the heartbreak of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and widespread public calls for competence and transparency, by immediately removing Dr. Levine from the position of Pennsylvania’s secretary of Health, or demanding her resignation.”

Representative Russ Diamond
102nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Haas, 717.772.9843