WASHINGTON – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state health commissioner last year instructed state health officials to prioritize testing for Covid-19 for some of the governor’s family members and powerful people with ties. with his administration, according to The Albany Times Union.
Top health department officials conducted Covid-19 tests for Cuomo’s brother Chris, a CNN host, as well as his mother and at least one of his sisters, often in private residences, the report said, citing to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. .
Testing was also prioritized by the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Patrick Foye, and the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Rick Cotton, and his wife, according to the report. Members of the media, state legislators, and their staff were also evaluated.
Administration officials said testing early in the pandemic was not preferential, noting that public nurses were being dispatched to screen those with symptoms in New Rochelle, the location of the state’s first outbreak.
“It’s a bit distorted with, like, devious intent … We made sure to test people who they thought were exposed,” an office assistant for Cuomo told The Times Union. “All of this was done in good faith in an effort to track down the virus.”
A senior Cuomo aide, Richard Azzopardi, called the accusations “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”
“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a great emphasis on contact tracing, we went absolutely the extra mile to get people to test, even in some cases, going to people’s homes and door-to-door in places. like New Rochelle, to take samples from those who are believed to have been exposed to Covid to identify cases and prevent additional ones, “Azzopardi told the newspaper. “Among those we attended were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the ability to spread it further.”
Chris Cuomo tested positive for Covid-19 in March of last year and isolated himself in his basement, returning to air the following month.
CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said Wednesday in response to the report: “We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. It is not surprising, however, that in the early days of a single global pandemic in a century, when Chris showed symptoms and was concerned about a possible spread, he would turn to anyone he could for advice and help, as any human being would. “
The governor was praised for his handling of the coronavirus in New York state last year, and held daily press conferences to update the public on the situation. However, he has since come under fire for failing to report the number of Covid-19 nursing home deaths, which is now being investigated.
The report comes as Cuomo has faced bipartisan calls to resign after several women accused him of sexual harassment. The governor has said he has not made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched a woman and has refused to resign.