Statement from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

“Gov. Hochul’s second day in office should be Howard Zucker’s last day at the Health Department. With the state finally admitting the total COVID death toll is roughly 12,000 higher than previously reported, it has never been more obvious that the health commissioner’s tenure needs to come to an immediate end.

As millions of New Yorkers suffered through the most devastating public health crisis of their lives, Howard Zucker looked on while COVID tests went to Andrew Cuomo’s VIPs and inner-circle. He issued a March 25 DOH directive forcing COVID into nursing homes. He refused to release information to the public, the press and lawmakers until the attorney general found nursing home deaths were underreported by 50 percent and a court order forced data to be shared. He produced a self-serving report that exonerated his own agency after being altered to minimize the severity of the problem.

At every turn and by every definition, Howard Zucker was complicit in a cover-up. If the new governor is serious about earning the people’s trust, replacing the state health commissioner is an appropriate place to start.”