NEW YORK — New York will be the state’s third health commissioner in as many years, and Dr. Mary T. Bassett announced her plans to resign Friday after just one year in office.
Bassett, a former New York City health commissioner who spent 17 years developing AIDS prevention programs in Zimbabwe, officially took over the Empire State’s top health post on December 1, 2021.
He replaced the embattled Howard Zucker, a key figure in the former administration’s pandemic response. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned after a dispute with his former boss.
Gov. Cathy Hochul, who appointed Bassett to the health position, did not immediately say who would replace him as New York continues to recover from the pandemic and seeks to fortify itself against other current and future health crises.
Her departure will be effective January 1, 2023, at which time Bassett says she will return to the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, where she is a professor.
“This was a very difficult decision,” Bassett said in a statement. “The work our staff has done during a very difficult year responding to the daily challenges of COVID, MPox, polio and protecting the health of New Yorkers, I admire him a lot.” Announcing his plans.
“I’m leaving now so the next commissioner can have the opportunity to lead this great department for a full 4-year term under Governor Hochul,” he said. “I am grateful that the governor has given me the opportunity to serve as commissioner, and I know that the department and public health will be in good hands thanks to the incredible talent and dedication of his leadership and staff. Although I will return to Massachusetts, I will always be a New Yorker and look forward to encouraging the department’s achievements in the years to come.
Bassett served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2014 to the summer of 2018 and led the department’s response to Ebola and other disease outbreaks.
Zucker resigned in September 2021 after facing backlash over the way the Cuomo administration handled the COVID pandemic and reported deaths from the virus, particularly in nursing homes.