New York State Health Commissioner Dr Howard A. Zucker has tendered his resignation, following political pressure for his removal due to his role in the state’s response to the pandemic under the former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who announced Dr Zucker’s resignation on Thursday, said she agreed with his decision and that he would “stay on board” until she found a replacement.
Dr Zucker, whom Mr Cuomo appointed to the post in 2015, has been criticized for his potential involvement in helping to hide the coronavirus death toll in nursing homes and withholding health data from the legislature l ‘last year.
Following Mr Cuomo’s resignation last month, Ms Hochul has come under pressure from Republicans, and even some Democrats, to sack Dr Zucker. Urging patience, Ms Hochul had said it would take her up to 45 days, or until early October, to decide whether or not to keep Dr Zucker and other Cuomo-era cabinet officials.
“I thank Dr Zucker for his willingness to stay on board so that we don’t have any leadership gaps until someone is identified,” she said. “I think I made it very clear on my first day on the job that I would be looking to build a new team. There will be other changes to come. But I respect all those who have served as public servants, I thank them for their service. “
The state’s response to the pandemic ravaging retirement homes and the processing of data on facility deaths is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, as well as an investigation by the Assembly of the United Nations. ‘State.
Under Dr Zucker’s leadership, the Department of Health released a controversial policy in March 2020 that effectively ordered nursing homes to take back residents who were discharged from hospitals after being treated for Covid-19. Critics of Mr Cuomo have argued that the policy, put in place while the virus was rampant in New York City, has helped him spread in nursing homes, a charge his administration has vigorously disputed.
His departure comes as the state continues to grapple with the highly contagious variant of the Delta, as health officials grapple with a safe return to school and rising vaccination rates among children. health workers and children.
Grace Ashford contributed reporting.