Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday confirmed Mary Bassett will be nominated to become the next commissioner of the state Department of Health.
Bassett previously served as the New York City health commissioner, and is in line to replace Commissioner Howard Zucker.
"Our recovery from this pandemic requires tested leadership and experience to improve health equity and access across the state, and Dr. Bassett is perfectly equipped to lead the New York State Department of Health during this critical moment," Hochul said in a statement. "When I was sworn in as Governor, I pledged to build a talented team with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to stop the spread of COVID-19, return our lives to normalcy, and move our state forward. Dr. Bassett is both a highly regarded public health expert and an exemplary public servant, and I look forward to working with her to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy."
Zucker, who served under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had come under scrutiny and criticism for his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a since-rescinded order that barred long-term care facilities from turning away COVID positive patients.
It's likely Bassett's nomination won't be confirmed by the state Senate until January, when the Legislature reconvenes for the new legislative session.
"I am humbled and honored to return to my home state of New York to lead the Department of Health at this pivotal time," Bassett said in a statement. "The pandemic underscored the importance of public health, while also revealing inequities driven by structural racism. As we move to end the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to create a state that is more equitable for all New Yorkers. I look forward to working toward this with Governor Hochul and the team at the Department of Health."
Bassett during her tenure in the de Blasio administration was the public face of the city's response to the Ebola crisis.
She later left for Harvard after the Department of Investigation in New York City looked into why the Department of Health did not send reports on elevated lead levels in kids to the New York City Housing Authority
The mayor on Wednesday said he was happy to see a new health commissioner, calling it a time for a change in the post.
Bassett, he said, is "an excellent leader."
"She's someone who clearly knows and understands the issues of New York City, and I’m certain shell be respectful of the good work we've done," he said. "If she is the choice, she’ll be a fine choice."