ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After more than seven years on the job, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has put in his letter of resignation. Zucker has led the State Department of Health throughout the COVID pandemic, but he became a controversial figure in the COVID nursing home scandal under former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Dr. Zucker has submitted his resignation, our Commissioner of Health. I agree with his decision,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said announcing the departure at a press conference in New York City Thursday. She called Zucker a “dedicated public servant” and thanked him for his work during the pandemic. 

“He understands that in this time I’ve wanted to take the first 45 days to assemble a new team going forward. That process is ongoing,” Hochul continued.

In his resignation letter, Zucker said he would work to provide a “smooth transition.” He touted his work on tackling issues like Ebola, Zika, and COVID. And he said, “There comes a time when the baton should be passed.”

The New York State Department of Health said it “thanks the Commissioner for his years of dedicated service and commitment to public health.”

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay said, “Dr. Howard Zucker’s resignation as Commissioner of the State Department of Health (DOH) was an obvious and overdue step.” Barclay hopes whoever replaces Zucker doesn’t have ties to the previous administration or its controversies. 

Hochul has not yet named a replacement but says that Zucker will stay on until the new person takes over.