As NY Struggled, Cuomo Ordered Health Officials To Prioritize His Family

"Gov. Cuomo speaks at opening of new LGA terminal" (CC BY 2.0) by Delta News Hub

As New York went struggled through the pandemic, New York Gov. Andres Cuomo allegedly directed health officials to prioritize his family uring the early days of the pandemic. 

According to a report last Wednesday, Cuomo and New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, allegedly directed health officials to prioritize Cuomo’s own family and people with ties to his administration during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Albany Times-Union also reported that Cuomo’s family members would allegedly receive preferential treatment such as COVID-testing. Included among them is Cuomo’s brother CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo as well as his mother and one of his sisters.

There are also some family members of Cuomo who have received multiple tests, such as Chris Cuomo, who reportedly get tested at his home on Long Island. One source also told the Times-Union that the conducted for Cuomo’s family members or people with ties to him were labeled as “critical samples” and are processed ahead of others. 

Meanwhile, Cuomo administration officials have denied these reports stating that they did not receive preferential treatment. A top adviser to Cuomo, Richard Azzopardi also said that the allegations were insincere efforts that were made to rewrite the past. 

Azzopardi said, “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.”

The top Cuomo adviser also added that “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.”

On the other hand, the New York State Department of health denied requests by the media for any comment from the epidemiologist who reportedly tested Cuomo’s brother. 

Gary Holmes, a spokesman for the department of health said, “You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity.” Holmes added, “More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics. We’ve built a nation-leading testing infrastructure to ensure that anybody who needs a test could get one. That work continues today.”

Other top officials who were allegedly given priority testing include Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife, as well as Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In their defense, the Cuomo administration stated that the testing in those early days of the pandemic was not preferential. They also noted that it was normal for public nurses to be driven to private residences in New Rochelle, the site where the first COVID outbreak happened in the state. They alleged that this was done in order to test people who were symptomatic or those who have been exposed. 

These damning allegations about Cuomo meddling with the business of the Health Department come as the governor has already been placed in hot water over sexual harassment accusations against him and another scandal about his administration’s handling of COVID-10 deaths in nursing homes. 

Prominent Democratic leaders in New York have already called on Cuomo to resign. The state legislature has also initiated impeachment proceedings against him. Despite all these, the governor has remained defiant and stated that he won’t step aside under any circumstance.