Mayor shakes up administration to address growing needs of COVID-19 pandemic

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A mayoral aide gets in between Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot white talking to Mayor Bill de Blasio during Coronavirus roundtable on March 12. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Looking to ensure the city will keep running amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of “senior appointments” to his administration.

According to the Mayor’s office, the new posts “will directly align key areas of the City government with today’s needs, including overseeing food supply and distribution and coordinating with the private sector’s relief efforts.”

“Our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m expanding and restructuring my senior team to help maximize the City’s response to this pandemic. We will take any steps necessary to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.” 

De Blasio named his chief of staff, Emma Wolfe, as the new deputy mayor of administration. While her duties won’t dramatically change, the appointment shifts her up the chain of command, as Wolfe will now be second in the line of succession should the mayor be temporarily unable to perform his duties.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia was named COVID-19 food czar, and will oversee efforts to ensure that the food distribution system continues to work without disruption for New Yorkers during the pandemic.   

Peter Hatch, who previously served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for health and human services, was named the COVID-19 public-private partnership czar. In this position, he’ll reach out on City Hall’s behalf to private and philanthropic groups to assist the city in responding to the crisis.

Gabrielle Fialkoff is also returning to the de Blasio Administration to again serve as the mayor’s senior advisor. She’ll assist the mayor in coordinating various relief efforts.

Finally, Julie Bero, who served as senior advisor for intergovernmental affairs to de Blasio, was named chief of staff to the deputy mayor for health and human services. She’ll support Deputy Mayor Raul Perea-Henze in supervising 12 citywide public health and social service agencies.