New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo — already facing scandals and numerous calls to resign — allegedly directed public health officials to prioritize his family, including his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, to receive priority for coronavirus testing.
“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,” The Times Union reported. “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.”
Cuomo’s office claimed that there was no preferential treatment involved and that the whole situation was “being a little bit distorted with like a devious intent,” Cuomo’s office said.
One individual involved in the matter told the publication that Cuomo’s family and others close to the governor were given priority in testing, referred to as “critical samples.” The report said that the alleged favoritism in coronavirus testing happened during the “early days” of the pandemic when New York became the epicenter for the outbreak in the U.S.
News broke last week that federal law enforcement officials were closing in on Cuomo and his top aides in their criminal investigation into Cuomo’s handling of nursing data during the pandemic.
“Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have contacted lawyers for Mr. Cuomo’s aides, interviewed senior officials from the state Health Department and subpoenaed Mr. Cuomo’s office for documents related to the disclosure of data last year, the people said,” The New York Times reported. “The interviews have included questions about information New York State submitted last year to the Justice Department, which had asked the state for data on Covid-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes, according to the people. False statements in such a submission could constitute a crime.”
Cuomo’s nursing home scandal exploded in late January after state Attorney General Letitia James announced that the number of nursing home deaths could be more than 50 percent higher than what Cuomo’s administration reported. The New York Post reported a couple of weeks later an explosive video conference call where Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, “privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them ‘we froze’ out of fear that the true numbers would ‘be used against us’ by federal prosecutors.” The Times reported that DeRosa and other aides allegedly altered a report from state health officials in June about how many seniors had died in nursing homes.
Cuomo has also faced widespread calls to resign after multiple women have come forward and accused him of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct while they worked for him.
This report has been updated to include additional information.