Updated: September 23, 2021 12:27 PM
Created: September 23, 2021 10:45 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State's Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker has submitted his resignation, Gov.Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.
Hochul said she accepted Zucker's resignation request, though he will stay on until a replacement is hired.
Zucker, who was appointed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015, drew intense questioning from lawmakers several times over the administration's lack of transparency regarding COVID outbreaks at nursing homes. Initially, the administration allowed nursing home residents with COVID-19 to go from the hospital back to their nursing home. Zucker said the state was following CDC guidelines, they were attempting not to discriminate against people positive with COVID-19.
Additionally, Zucker was the subject of allegations he directed high-level members of the state Department of Health to prioritize Cuomo's relatives and people with ties to the administration for COVID-19 testing last year.
Several Republican lawmakers had called for Zucker to resign, that was before Cuomo's resignation, and Hochul's appointment.
Republican State Senate Leader, Robert Ortt, who was one of those who called for Zucker's resignation called the move "welcome news" in a statement.
"To be clear, his resignation should’ve happened in January, when I first called for it. Howard Zucker chose to protect Andrew Cuomo’s political career above protecting the health of New Yorkers. We hope that he and Andrew Cuomo have occasion to continue discussing and refining their warped version of science during their retirement from public service."
When asked if the current administration put pressure on Zucker to resign, Hochul said the move comes as she's looking to make a new "team." She says there have been a "number of individuals" who have shown interest in joining the administration but did not directly say if she has candidates for the position.
Zucker said he is looking forward to pursuing "new opportunities" in medicine and public health.
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