Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top vaccine distribution adviser has stepped down, the governor's office on Thursday confirmed.
Larry Schwartz, a longtime adviser and ally both in and out of government, had served in the position for several months, and had led the effort coordinate the distribution of millions of vaccine doses around the state.
“At the request of Governor Cuomo I returned to public service over a year ago as a volunteer to help in the battle against Covid," Schwartz said in a statement. "It started with ensuring the State had enough PPE for front line health care workers, to ventilators and beds for covid hospital patients, to a new contact tracing program to overseeing the administration of the State vaccine program. My plan was always to step down in my volunteer capacity over the next few weeks as we achieved certain milestones. As a life long resident, I take pride in helping my fellow New Yorkers."
The New York Times first reported Schwartz's departure on Thursday, pointing to the passage of a law the reinstating a two-year lobbying ban after working for the state. Schwartz is an executive with OTG, an airport concession company.
He had been working as an unpaid volunteer for the last five months as the top official in charge of the vaccine rollout within the governor's office. It's not immediately clear if the reinstatement of the lobbying rule would have affected Schwartz.
Schwartz has worked at both the local government level as well as for the state, and served as the top aide to Cuomo in a role now filled by Melissa DeRosa.
"Larry volunteered and worked 16-hour days to help manage New York's pandemic response -- from creating our hospital surge and flex program to securing lifesaving PPE and medical supplies to launching our contact tracing program to the vaccine rollout -- and now that our vaccine distribution network is fully established he had been planning to leave in the next few weeks," said Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor. "We are incredibly grateful for his dedication and service to New Yorkers in their greatest time of need."
Cuomo on Thursday continued to push for vaccinations, urging younger people to get their shots as eligibility is now open to all New Yorkers 16 and older.