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Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to serve as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, the transition team announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Levine would make history as the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Biden has pledged to assemble the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history in order to reflect the country's demographics.

Background: Levine, who is a graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, has helped lead Pennsylvania's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She previously served as the state's physician general.

  • She would step into national government as the pandemic continues to ravage much of the country, with over 400,000 U.S. deaths likely to be recorded by the time Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday.
  • Biden has promised to ramp up the nation's response to the virus, including with a plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency.

What they're saying: “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the 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.

  • “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Go deeper: Biden finalizes full slate of Cabinet secretaries

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Health

U.K. surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. on Tuesday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths almost a year after the first two cases were reported in the country, according to government figures.

Why it matters: It is the first European country and fifth country in the world to reach the threshold. The country reported 100,162 deaths on Tuesday.

Jan 26, 2021 - Health

Biden admin to boost COVID vaccine delivery to states for at least 3 weeks

Vice President Harris receives her second COVID-19 vaccine dose in Bethesda, Maryland, on Jan. 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to increase its COVID-19 vaccine shipments to states and tribes from 8.6 million doses per week to 10 million for at least the next three weeks, as part of an effort to vaccinate the majority of the U.S. population by the end of this summer.

Why it matters: Hospitals in states across the U.S. say they are running out of vaccines and the country's death toll is sharply rising.

U.K. sends patrol ships to British island amid fishing dispute with France

The HMS Tamar, one of the two ships deployed to Jersey. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it has deployed two Royal Navy patrol vessels to the island of Jersey "as a precautionary measure," as tensions over fishing rights escalate with France.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the government took the action to protect Jersey against threats of "a blockade" of French fishing boats at the island, which is off the coast of northwest France.