Sources told the Times Union and Washington Post that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) instructed state health officials to “prioritize” coronavirus testing for members of his family, including his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
The Times Union reported:
High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times, the sources said.
“As part of the program, a state lab immediately processed the results of those who were tested, the people said, even as average New Yorkers were struggling to get tested in the early days of the pandemic due to a scarcity of resources,” according to the Washington Post.
“Initially, the lab was only capable of running several hundred tests a day for a state with 19 million residents,” it said.
The paper claimed the use of state resources “to benefit people close to the governor raises serious ethical questions.”
In March 2020, Chris Cuomo announced he had contracted the virus.
“I knew it was just a matter of time, to be honest, because of how often I was exposed to people,” Cuomo said, according to the Associated Press.
He said he would work from home and hosted his primetime show from his basement.
A “top New York Department of Health doctor” visited Cuomo at his home to obtain testing samples from him and his family.
The governor scolded his brother during one of his famed press conferences after the revelation and that the anchor had their 88-year-old mother at his home.
“It’s my family, it’s your family, it’s all of our families,” Andrew Cuomo said. “This virus is so insidious, and we have to keep that in mind.”
Cuomo’s administration defended his handling of testing.
“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement, according to the Post, adding some testing was done in homes and door-to-door.
“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,” he said.