New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo ordered senior officials at the State Department of Health to prioritize his family members and close associates for coronavirus testing at the outset of the pandemic in 2020 when access to testing was limited, according to a new report.
According to the Albany Times-Union, Cuomo’s relatives who received priority testing in March 2020 included the governor’s CNN anchor brother, Chris Cuomo, his 89-year-old mother, Matilda Cuomo, and at least one of his sisters.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye and Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, both close allies of Cuomo, also received the early testing for the virus as it began to wreak havoc across the state.
According to the report, orders for who should be tested were reportedly given by Dr. Howard Zucker, the commissioner of the Health Department, and Cuomo himself.
The report also adds that the priority testing often took place at private residences and was performed by senior officials in the Health Department, including Dr. Elanor Adams, an epidemiologist who’s now a special adviser to Zucker.
In TV personality, Chris Cuomo’s case, testing was reportedly administered at his home in Long Island.
Chris Cuomo later tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31.
This adds to a long list of scandals plaguing the beleaguered Governor.
He has been accused by several women of sexual harrasment and misconduct and accused of mishandling Coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
According to the report, the prioritization of Cuomo relatives and friends distracted key Health Department officials battling the pandemic from other more pressing work.
“To be doing sort of direct clinical work was a complete time suck away from their other duties,” a person said to the TimesUnion.
“It was like wartime.”
Rich Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo adviser, didn’t directly address the allegations of preferential treatment by the governor, but slammed what he called “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”
“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing — including in some instances going to people’s homes,” he said in an email.
“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it.”
Prominent Democratic leaders in the state have called on Cuomo to resign, and the state Legislature has initiated impeachment proceedings. The governor, however, says he won’t resign under any circumstance.