The worst viral outbreak in more than a century has exposed critical weaknesses in New York’s public health defenses. Learning the lessons of this crisis – and fortifying the state against the next infectious disease – should be a top priority for state leaders. In this Empire Center forum, three experienced public health professionals will examine how the pandemic unfolded, what lessons can be drawn and what changes should be made going forward.


  • Moderator: Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy, Empire Center
  • Guthrie Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., emeritus professor, University at Albany School of Public Health, former deputy commissioner of public health, New York State Department of Health
  • Isaac Weisfuse, M.D., M.P.H., former deputy commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, adjunct professor, Cornell University Public Health
  • A.K. Vaidian, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

2020 Hindsight: Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic in New York

Why did the coronavirus hit New York so hard, and how can we protect ourselves from the next pandemic? Watch our presentation and panel discussion to find out what experts had to say. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!