State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker Departing DOH

Situation Report | September 27, 2021 

In a letter to Governor Hochul, State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker tendered his resignation last Thursday as the state’s top public health official. His departure comes after serving seven and a half years as the Health Department’s leader. Dr. Zucker will continue to serve until a successor is appointed. 

Governor Hochul has indicated that she is already considering individuals for appointment to this post. Upon her ascendance to the office of Governor, it had been expected that she would increasingly follow with her own cabinet appointments. 

Dr. Zucker’s tenure steered the Department over a decade of public health, Medicaid and related crises, COVID-19 beyond all others. COVID-19 brought lengthy and intense criticism connected with Governor Cuomo’s and the Department’s handling of the pandemic, and most substantially the COVID-19 policies related to care and placement of the elderly, data transparency and other aspects of the pandemic’s management. 

Dr. Zucker was a direct supporter of home care and receptive in discussions with the HCA Board and policy team. He met and collaborated often with HCA, invited the Association’s direct input on important considerations, and availed to HCA the assistance of his office in many ways.  

Leading up to COVID-19, Dr. Zucker had engaged HCA directly to work with him to formulate a new departmental vision of support for home care, which he regarded as the “future of long term care.” COVID-19 regrettably put a hold on these plans, as it has on so many other needed efforts.  

HCA wishes Dr. Zucker well and looks forward to working with the new Commissioner upon appointment.