On September 23, 2021, New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced his resignation.
Dr. Zucker is chiefly known for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, for his disastrous March 2020 directive that required New York’s nursing homes to accept patients with COVID-19, and for his participation in the Cuomo administration’s alleged falsification of COVID-19 death totals. Under Dr. Zucker’s leadership, the Health Department oversaw the provision of special COVID-19 testing for VIPs, including relatives of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Dr. Zucker has agreed to remain in his position until a new commissioner is in place.
Gov. Kathy Hochul thanked Dr. Zucker for his service but stated that she agreed with his decision to step down.
State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) asserted that Dr. Zucker’s resignation was “‘welcome news to all the local public health officials whose input into COVID-19 he ignored, to all the medical professionals who had to endure a Department of Health agenda driven by politics over public health necessities, and to the thousands of families whose loved ones’ deaths were covered up by him, under orders he falsely claimed were based on science.’”
On September 29, Gov. Hochul announced that she had hired former New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett to replace Zucker as New York health commissioner. Dr. Bassett is scheduled to start work on December 1 on an acting basis, and is expected to receive Senate confirmation the following month.