COVID-19 cases continue to devastate Pennsylvania as hospital ICU capacity reaches 80% and only 1.7% of Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated

As a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, Toomey has a responsibility to swiftly confirm Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, Xavier Becerra, and to call on his Republican Senate colleagues to drop the obstruction that has left the department without leadership as COVID-19 continues to devastate Pennsylvania

Accountable Senate War Room: “With mounting cases and deaths straining ICU capacity, Pennsylvanians need action — not obstruction — from their elected officials”

 Washington, D.C. – Today, the Accountable Senate War Room released a background brief outlining the ongoing devastation COVID-19 has had on the state of Pennsylvania, highlighting the increasing need to get the pandemic under control. While Pennsylvanians are fighting for their lives against the pandemic and its subsequent economic impacts, Senator Pat Toomey and his Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee continue to delay and obstruct the confirmation process of Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Every day further delayed is another day that small businesses remain closed, hard-working Americans remain on unemployment, and lives are lost to the pandemic. 

“Instead of working to ensure the Biden administration was ready on day one to tackle to COVID-19 pandemic and help the people of Pennsylvania, Senator Toomey played politics with the confirmation process of Biden’s nominees, including Xavier Becerra. With mounting cases and deaths climbing, Pennsylvanians need action — not obstruction — from their elected officials,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “Senator Toomey has a duty to act in the best interest of his constituents, and that starts with swiftly confirming Xavier Becerra as our next HHS secretary.” 

BACKGROUND BRIEF: The impact of obstruction in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has had nearly 850,000 COVID-19 cases and over 21,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with hospital ICU capacity at 80% and only 1.7% of its population completely vaccinated. As a prominent member of the Senate Finance Committee, instead of working with the incoming Biden administration to provide his constituents with the life-saving aid they so desperately need, Toomey has done little to ensure a swift confirmation of Xavier Becerra. After Biden’s victory was official, Toomey threatened to obstruct Biden’s nominees during the lame-duck period, explaining that the Senate’s duty to advise and consent “is not a meaningful concept unless it can be withheld if the circumstances require it.” More delays in the confirmation process could hurt Pennsylvanians by further complicating the COVID-19 response and threatening the agency’s ability to distribute hundreds of millions of vaccines across the country. 

The Department of Health and Human Services plays a huge role in the work that must be done to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. After being left with a “nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan” by the outgoing Trump administration, President Biden is essentially starting “from scratch” and needs his HHS Secretary in place to help distribute hundreds of millions of vaccine doses across the country. Further delays could cause vaccines to expire before being administered, forcing life-saving doses to be tossed in the trash. Senate Republicans failed to do their job while they had power during the lame-duck period. It’s time for Republicans to work across the aisle to ensure the Biden administration has all the tools to combat the COVID crisis as quickly and effectively as possible, starting with a swift confirmation of Xavier Becerra. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of the COVID-19 situation in Pennsylvania:

  • Total Case Count: 848,244
  • Daily Case Count Seven-Day Average: 5,613
  • Total Death Count: 21,715
  • Hospital ICU Occupancy Rate: 80%
  • Pennsylvanians Completely Vaccinated: 1.7%
  • Pennsylvanians Who Received At Least One Vaccine Dose: 6.7%
  • Percent Of Vaccine Supply Distributed: 55%
  • Disproportionate Racial Impacts:
    • Black Pennsylvanians: 11% of population but 14.6% of cases and 13% of deaths, and only 3.3% of vaccinations
    • Hispanic Pennsylvanians: 7.8% of population but 20.7% of cases and only 2.9% of vaccinations. 
    • White Pennsylvanians: 80% of population but 91% of vaccinations


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