New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker ordered that members of the governor’s family and others with ties to his administration to get priority coronavirus testing last year, a report said Wednesday.
Relatives of Gov. Cuomo including his brother, Chris Cuomo, one of their sisters, and their mom, Matilda Cuomo, were tested several times during the early days of the pandemic, the Albany Times-Union reports.
The COVID-19 testing was done by high-level members of the state Health Department, mainly at private homes, the newspaper said, citing three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Others who were given priority testing included the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Rick Cotton, and his wife, as well as Pat Foye, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and his wife. Some state legislators and their staff were also tested, according to the report by the Albany Times-Union.
Gov. Cuomo’s administration denied the allegations of preferential treatment to the media outlet.
Cuomo spokesman and adviser Rich Azzopardi called the accusations an “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, and door-to-door in places like New Rochelle — to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones,” he said.
“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.”
New York Rep. Lee Zeldin used the report to reignite his call for Cuomo to resign.
“This latest report of prioritizing his family members for COVID testing at private residences conducted by state Health Department officials and having their tests moved to the front of the line at Wadsworth adds to a very long list of reasons why Cuomo’s Gotta Go,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who has also in the past called for Cuomo to step down, tweeted “nobody surprised here,” in response to the news.
In a statement, a CNN spokesperson said Chris Cuomo, who was infected with COVID-19 last March, acted as “any human being would.”
“It is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would,” the spokesperson said.
The allegations come as the embattled governor faces several allegations of sexual harassment, including from two current staffers, and a scandal over his administration’s handling of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
The dueling scandals have subjected Cuomo to several investigations.
State Attorney General Letitia James is heading a probe into the sexual harassment accusations against the governor, while the US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the FBI are investigating the Cuomo administrations handling of coronavirus in nursing homes.
The state Assembly has also launched an impeachment probe against the governor.