ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — In a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday morning, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state's health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, had resigned.
"His resignation comes as a surprise to all of us. We do know that Dr. Zucker worked very hard during this pandemic. We're going to wish him well on his new endeavors," Dr. Kevin Watkins, Public Health Director of Cattaraugus County, said, "The pandemic has taken it's toll on all healthcare workers and all those who have been involved trying to reduce the spread of this virus among the residents of New York State. We're sorry to see him go."
Zucker will stay in his position with the New York State Department of Health until his replacement is brought on, Hochul said.
As commissioner of the state health department, Zucker's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic came under fire in 2020 and into 2021. Following a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James in January of this year on the deaths of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, several elected leaders in Western New York called for Zucker's resignation.
Zucker was appointed as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2015.
Governor Kathy Hochul will appoint the next commissioner. All appointees must be confirmed by the New York State Senate. You can read Dr. Zucker's full resignation letter below.