The state Department of Health has improved transparency and pandemic data sharing under her new administration, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said after testimony by a former state health official described difficult working conditions under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"They know they are accountable to me now," Hochul said during a news conference. "The Department of Health under my administration knows they are required to be fully transparent."
Transcripts of testimony by women who had accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct released last week by Attorney General Letitia James's office included allegations by the former director of epidemiology, who described a dysfunctional work environment during the pandemic and how information flowed through the governor's office.
The former official told investigators the state Department of Health was barred from working with their counterparts on the local level and how COVID test results in the early days of the pandemic were routed first through the governor's office.
Hochul, who took office in August, said she has worked to "change the culture" at state agencies, including the Department of Health and how New York officials are handling the pandemic. Hochul's administration has released more data on COVID-19 fatalities as tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's not whether or not there's another pandemic," Hochul said. "It's who is in charge of the state. That has changed. That's why there will be a difference."