Embattled New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker reportedly instructed local health officials to prioritize Cuomo’s family and individuals with links to his administration during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Albany Times Union, sources with direct knowledge of the occurrences told the outlet that family members received multiple tests even when they were scarce. Reportedly, epidemiologist Dr. Eleanor Adams was sent to the Governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s residence in Long Island to test him. The Cuomo Prime Time anchor was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 31 and according to the Times Union, the test came "at a time when many members of the public struggled to obtain coronavirus tests."
Chris Cuomo defied his own brother's COVID lockdown restrictions and left his home while still recovering from the virus. In April of last year, the CNN anchor was called out by a cyclist for violating the governor's policies.
A source also told the Times Union that these priority tests for family and associates were designated "critical samples" and were processed ahead of other New Yorkers. Those receiving special treatment reportedly included Cuomo’s mother and at least one of the Governor’s sisters.
The Times Union also reported that Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife; and Patrick Foye, head of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authorities, and his wife as well as unnamed media members and state legislators were all bumped to the front of the line for testing in the early days of the pandemic. Richard Azzopardi, one of the Governor’s advisers as well as other Cuomo administration officials denied the allegations. Azzopardi said the claims were "insincere efforts to rewrite the past."
The allegations come as federal authorities are investigating Governor Cuomo and his administration for underreporting and concealing the number of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing home facilities following Cuomo’s order to send COVID positive patients into the facilities. The Governor is also facing calls for his resignation after eight women, including former and current staff, have alleged sexual harassment and misconduct. The claims are being investigated by state agencies.