New York Governor Kathy Hochul says state Health Commissioner, Doctor Howard Zucker has submitted his resignation.

The governor thanked Zucker for his service to the state during the COVID-19 pandemic and says that Doctor Zucker has agreed to stay on until the state names a new commissioner.

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Zucker was appointed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo as state health commissioner in 2015.

He has faced heated criticism over the state’s COVID-19 response, particularly in nursing homes.

Data released by the state earlier this year shows 15,800 people living in nursing homes and other long-term care homes in New York have died of COVID-19.

There had been conflicting numbers and questions were raised early in the pandemic about the true number of people in nursing homes that were infected by the coronavirus and how many nursing home residents had died. The policy of returning nursing home patients diagnosed with COVID to the extended care facilities following time in the hospital was also called into question.

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Dr. Zucker and the Governor’s aid explained there were over-lapping numbers and grey areas when patients were transferred back and forth between hospitals and extended care facilities.  The administration, at one point admitting numbers may have been adjusted to protect federal funding from being cut by then-President Donald Trump, then back-peddling on that revelation.

A New York State committee is still investigating the actions of the Cuomo administration concerning nursing home deaths, readmissions, sexual harassment claims and whether state tax-payer resources were used to help the former governor write his best-selling book on his response to the pandemic.

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