New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo arranged for family members, including his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, to receive special access to state COVID-19 tests early in the pandemic, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Albany Times-Union first reported that Cuomo was using state facilities to rush COVID tests for his family, which included his brother, Chris Cuomo, mother and “at least one” of his sisters.
The Washington Post reported that Gov. Cuomo’s administration sent state health officials to the homes of his family members and other “well-connected figures,” whose test specimens were then rushed by state troopers to a public health lab, the Wadsworth Center in Albany, Ny. Employees at the Wadsworth Center were sometimes asked to stay late after their shifts to continue processing results of people close to Cuomo and his administration, the Post said. These tests would often be processed on the same day, during a time, the Post said, when testing resources were scarce.
The Post also noted the specimens tied to Cuomo and his family were “shrouded in secrecy,” and that they were anonymized using initials and numbers.
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In a statement, a CNN spokesman appeared to confirm that its anchor sought out special treatment from his well-connected brother. “We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, 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.
In a statement provided to the Washington Post, Gov. Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said: “We should avoid 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.”
It’s the latest headache to hit the New York governor’s office in 2021. At least five former aides and one unnamed current aide have come forward to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
Cuomo is also embroiled in a scandal regarding his administration’s handling of nursing homes in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.