Op-Ed: Department of Health’s decision to withhold information continues troubling pattern

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam has found another “loophole” in the State’s Vital Statistics Law of 1953 in a calculated move to deny lawmakers full disclosure in reviewing the deaths of Pennsylvanians who died from COVID-19. 

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC), comprised of bipartisan state representatives and senators, requested the death certificates for those having COVID-19 listed on their death record.

Acting Health Secretary Beam, in a letter dated Nov. 3rd to the LBFC denied the request under the confidentiality exception, stating the LBFC legislative body “Is not a ‘agency of the government’; its work is not in the conduct of official duty; and that its work studying and analyzing the reporting of death records is not research.” Instead, the LBFC was given a “highly redacted” report that only impairs any real attempts at providing accurate information.

This penchant of concealing truth is par for the course with the Wolf Administration’s lack of transparency in wake of the disastrous March 18, 2020 directive by then Secretary Levine, requiring long-term care facilities to accept COVID positive residents after release from hospitals.  This science denying decision led to the tragic and avoidable deaths of nearly 16,000 elderly and cherished family members in the Commonwealth.

The administration failed to follow their own “follow the science” platitude, in the face of already knowing that individuals over the age of 70 and those with two or more comorbidities were at the greatest risk of severe illness and death.

The governors of forty-five out of all the fifty states agreed that it was absurd to send sick COVID patients into the most vulnerable population.  Yet Governor Wolf and four others (New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and California) recklessly rejected science-based germ theory and had their respective health secretaries issue guidance to send the sick back into long term facilities. 

After much legal wrangling between attorneys representing the LBFC and the Department of Health, a report was released revealing some information regarding demographics of those who perished.  According to the data, no one under the age of 14 died from COVID-19.  The majority who died from COVID-19 were in the age range of 85-89 (2,792)

What was excluded in the report was information pertaining to COVID death certificates. This would allow the committee to examine accuracy of the reported numbers and other co-morbidities that may have contributed to the deaths as opposed to COVID alone.

Pennsylvanians have not forgotten that Levine’s own 95 year old mom was in a facility, and the secretary, knowing the danger (but concealing it from the citizens of Pennsylvania) secretly smuggled her to the safety of a deluxe hotel suite, while “our” own loved ones were left to die.  In the luxury and safety of this hotel, Levine freely visited mom, while our state’s citizens found them cut off from their loved ones, peering through windows and watching them die neglected and alone. 

Citizens who had lived good lives, veterans who had served their country with valor, were condemned to a lonely and isolated death.  I am astounded that neither the Attorney General, nor the media cared enough to either launch or demand an investigation into the reckless, disastrous and science denying policies of Levine and Governor Wolf. 

We will continue to seek a full investigation into the handling of COVID-19 by the Wolf Administration and demand to know the truth for the families that lost loved ones.  Those who destroyed thousands upon thousands of lives must be held accountable.

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