"So we are hearing reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo got his family and members of his inner circle preferential access to testing last spring, when we know, especially here in New York, how hard it was to get everyone tested. And the governor at the time was saying that not everyone should get tested unless they were directly exposed to COVID. The governor hasn't, himself, spoken out on this, but his office has not disputed these reports, which were first reported by the Albany Times Union here in Albany. But the governor's office said we just went above and beyond to try to get people tested. And we know at the time that the governor was concerned about his mother and his mother, at some point, had visited his brother Chris's home. And by late March, Chris Cuomo came out and said that he himself had tested positive for COVID. He's also a CNN journalist."
New York - February 12, 2021
2. Andrew Cuomo waves to cameras as he enters building
New York - March 23, 2020
3. Cuomo speaking at virus-related news conference
"He often had his brother on his show last spring, and Chris Cuomo is a journalist and we've done a lot of reporting here at AP about whether that's ever crossed some ethical lines by having Chris bring his brother on the show."
"Right now, the governor is facing a lot of heat, including from members of his own party, a majority of state Democrats here in New York are calling on him to resign. He's refused to do so. He's facing allegations of sexual harassment and as well as allegations that his administration unlawfully minimized the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID and refused to release that actual tally for many months."
Relatives of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others with connections to him received special access to coronavirus tests a year ago when testing was scarce, according to published reports in newspapers.
Members of Cuomo's family including his brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, his mother and at least one of his sisters were tested by top health department officials, some of them several times, according to the Times Union of Albany.
The testing of people closely tied to the Democratic governor was carried out by high-ranking state health officials, The New York Times reported. It mostly happened in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020.
The newspapers cited multiple people with direct knowledge of the testing but did not identify them.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo, did not explicitly deny that the administration had extended special treatment to people close to the governor but sought to dispute the notion.
"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," Azzopardi said in a statement to the newspapers, adding that the effort included "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 to prevent others from developing the disease.
Chris Cuomo was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March of 2020. The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top state health department doctor who visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family, people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post, which did not identify them.
In a statement late Wednesday, CNN spokesperson Matt Dornic said: "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 same doctor who tested Chris Cuomo, Eleanor Adams, now a top adviser to the state health commissioner, also was enlisted to test other Cuomo family members, two people familiar with the program told The Washington Post.
The coronavirus test specimens were then rushed to the Wadsworth Center, a state public health lab in Albany, where they were processed immediately, the people said.
News of the priority testing program comes as the third-term governor battles controversies on multiple fronts, including an investigation by the state attorney general into allegations of sexual harassment, which Cuomo has denied, and a federal inquiry into the state's reporting of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
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Chris Cuomo , Andrew Cuomo
New York state government, New York State Department of Health