NY vaccine czar Larry Schwartz is stepping down

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Larry Schwartz

FILE – In this March 3, 2010 file photo, Larry Schwartz listens to a news conference at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Schwartz, a longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Larry Schwartz, New York State’s COVID-19 vaccine czar and a longtime ally to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is stepping down from his volunteer position with the state.

Schwartz released a statement recounting his work with the state through the pandemic, procuring personal protective equipment for frontline workers, overseeing the state vaccine rollout and more. He added that his plan was always to step down over the next few weeks.

“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. 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.”

Larry Schwartz

Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to Governor Cuomo, released a statement noting that because the vaccine distribution network in New York is now fully established Schwartz will be leaving in the coming weeks.

“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 roll out — and now that our vaccine distribution network is fully established he had been planning to leave in the next few weeks. We are incredibly grateful for his dedication and service to New Yorkers in their greatest time of need.”

Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to Governor Cuomo

Schwartz’s resignation comes after the state legislature repealed an executive order this week that related to volunteers on the same day they repealed the food-with-alcohol rule. Individuals like Schwartz who volunteer to take on significant government work will now be treated as public officers in order to comply with government disclosure and transparency rules.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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