Governor names replacements for departing health secretary

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday said he would elevate two officials involved in his administration's response to the coronavirus to replace the departing Dr. Rachel Levine as his health secretary and physician general.

Wolf said he intends to nominate a deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to take over as secretary of the Department of Health. Wolf, meanwhile, elevated Dr. Wendy Braund, the Covid-19 response director for the department, to acting interim physician general.

Beam has coordinated programming across several agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, and has helped coordinate the administration’s pandemic response.

Braund, who taught health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, also served in senior positions in Wyoming's state government and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Levine's last day was to be Friday, as she prepares to become President Joe Biden’s nominee to be his assistant secretary of health.

The transition comes at a critical time in the statewide response to the pandemic, with the state reporting hundreds of deaths per day and officials trying to ramp up statewide distribution of the two vaccines.