NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Dr. Howard Zucker is stepping down as New York State health commissioner.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the news during a Thursday morning COVID-19 briefing.

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Hochul said he submitted his resignation, but agreed to stay on until the position is filled.

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“There comes a time when the baton should be passed in this marathon journey that we call public service in New York State,” Zucker wrote in his resignation letter. “With a fierce dedication to the public’s health, I have carried it through many a crisis in the last seven years and five months and placed the welfare of our residents at the forefront of all things, professional and personal.”

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“I agree with his decision,” said Hochul. “He has been a dedicated public servant for over seven and a half years. He worked hard through the pandemic. And I want to thank him for his service on behalf of the people of this state.”

Web Extra: Read Dr. Zucker’s Resignation Letter (pdf)

Zucker was a regular figure at former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic news conferences.

He came under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes, particularly a March 2020 mandate that COVID-positive residents be allowed to return to facilities, which many said were unequipped to quarantine those patients.

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CBSNewYork Team