N.Y.C. Health Commissioner to Stay On Until March, Adams Says

The commissioner, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, will continue to run the health department after Eric Adams becomes mayor on Jan. 1, as the Omicron variant surges. Dr. Ashwin Vasan will succeed Dr. Chokshi in mid-March.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams will keep New York City’s health commissioner in his position for several months to provide continuity to the city’s pandemic response, Mr. Adams said on Wednesday.

The current commissioner, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, will continue to run the health department after Mr. Adams takes office on Jan. 1. In mid-March, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the president of Fountain House, a New York-based mental health and public health charity, will take over the job.

New York City has seen an alarming rise in coronavirus cases this month as the Omicron variant spreads. Case numbers were much lower when Mr. Adams was elected in November, and the new surge will present an immediate challenge for him. He decided on Tuesday to cancel his planned indoor inauguration ceremony over safety reasons.

Mr. Adams has made a flurry of appointments to his new administration this month, including a schools chancellor, police commissioner and deputy mayors. He has praised Dr. Chokshi, whom Mayor Bill de Blasio named to be health commissioner in August 2020.

“For the next three months as we get through this surge, Dr. Chokshi will continue the excellent work he is doing now to increase testing capacity, promote vaccinations and boosters, and stop the spread of this virus,” Mr. Adams said in a statement.

Dr. Vasan, a professor of public health at Columbia University, will serve as a senior adviser in the Adams administration until he becomes health commissioner. He said in a statement that he would focus both on the pandemic and on other health problems plaguing the city.

“Make no mistake: We will stop the spread of this virus,” Dr. Vasan said. “We will also deliver on the mayor-elect’s public health priorities by fixing our broken mental health system and ensuring equitable access to clean air, clean water, healthy food, and affordable health care.”

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