Albany, NY — After State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett announced her departure from the department, Empire Center senior fellow for health policy Bill Hammond released the following statement:

“Commissioner Bassett’s tenure feels like a missed opportunity. She took over during what should be a turning point for the Health Department – a global pandemic that hit New York especially early and especially hard and rattled confidence in its public health system. With her experience and qualifications, Dr. Bassett was well positioned to lead a once-in-a-century rethinking and modernization of pandemic defenses. Her actions could have influenced officials around the world and helped to save millions of lives.”

“From the beginning, however, Dr. Bassett resisted the idea of unwinding past events – which would be crucial to learning the right lessons – and made no obvious effort to better prepare the state for future viruses. When Governor Hochul belatedly ordered a review of the pandemic response, she assigned the homeland security commissioner to coordinate it rather than Dr. Bassett.

“Dr. Bassett leaves behind a Health Department still in need of rebuilding. The moment has not yet passed. Hopefully, the next commissioner will be better suited to seizing it.”

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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