New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett announced Friday she will be leaving her post on Jan. 1 and returning to the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health.
“This was a very difficult decision. I have tremendous respect for the work our staff has done during a very difficult year responding to COVID, mpox, polio and the day-to-day challenges of protecting New Yorkers’ health,” Bassett said in a statement.
Bassett announced Thursday that New York state health officials would use mpox in place of monkeypox in printed and digital writing following in the footsteps of the World Health Organization.
Bassett explained in the statement that she chose to resign at the beginning of next year to allow her successor to a chance to lead the state’s “great” health department for “a full 4-year term” under Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).
Hochul took over as New York governor last summer after then Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul beat Republican challenger Lee Zeldin in the race for governor in a closer-than-expected election this November, tightly winning her first full-term to the state’s highest office.
Bassett has served as the state’s top health official for just one year replacing former New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker who stepped down from the post roughly a month after Cuomo’s departure in disgrace.
“I am grateful that the Governor gave me the opportunity to serve as commissioner, and I know that the department and public health will be in good hands thanks to her leadership and the incredible talent and dedication of the staff,” Bassett said about Hochul and her administration in the statement.
“Though I’m moving back to Massachusetts, I will always be a New Yorker, I look forward to cheering on the department’s accomplishments in the coming years.”
Hochul’s office has not responded to questions from The Hill as to who the state’s next health commissioner will be.