ALBANIA – In the first few months of the pandemic when COVID-19 tests were scarce, Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to make the tests available to those most in need.
According to reports on Wednesday evening, this included his family members and other well-connected people close to his administration.
Both the Washington Post and the Times Union in Albany reported that Cuomo’s office was arranging coronavirus tests for his family, including his CNN anchor brother Chris and other influential people with close Cuomo ties.
The tests were carried out on people at home for a time, and some of them were carried out by Dr. Eleanor Adams, an epidemiologist who served as special adviser to the State Department of Health.
The Times Union, which first covered the details, said Adams’ travels, including visiting Long Island by Chris Cuomo, who announced in late March 2020 that he was positive about COVID, and his fight against the virus every night in his broadcast detailed what the governor appeared many times over the past year.
Cuomo’s office did not deny the reports, but said the state is trying to test as many people as possible to develop a contact tracing program, citing door-to-door efforts to help residents of New Rochelle, the Westchester County community, to test first COVID hotspot in the nation.
“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past,” Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s special adviser, said in a statement.
“In the early days of this pandemic, when the focus was on tracing contacts, we went to great lengths to run tests – in some cases to people’s homes too.”
He said efforts are aimed at “taking samples from people believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent further ones.”
And Azzopardi said, “Among the people we supported were members of the general public, including lawmakers, reporters, government officials and their families, who feared they had contracted the virus and could spread it further.”
More:Assembly makes the first step in the Cuomo impeachment probe, but it can take months
Latest bad news for Cuomo
The reports were the latest in worrying news for Cuomo, a Democrat already trying to fend off two scandals that threaten his future as governor.
The Attorney General and State Assembly are investigating Cuomo for the sexual harassment of at least eight women, mainly current and former aides.
And the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Cuomo administration into its treatment of COVID deaths in nursing homes, including undercounting deaths related to the homes.
At the start of the pandemic, Cuomo repeatedly vowed not to stand in the way of politics or favoritism of the state’s response.
New York was the hardest-hit state in the country in the first few months of the pandemic, with up to 800 deaths a day, making tests particularly difficult.
In fact, on March 3, 2020, days after New York had its first case, the governor spoke on his brother’s SiriusXM radio broadcast to urge that emergency “government purest distillation” was required.
“This is about capacity,” said Andrew Cuomo on the show.
“This is not about concepts. It is not about rhetoric. Either the government finds out how to deal with this situation, runs the test and does the quarantine to unify all health departments, or not. There are none Politics . “
More:The current employee says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made suggestive comments and spoiled her
The Post reported that testing efforts led by the Cuomo administration at the beginning of the pandemic included “two-person swab teams to test” dozen “of VIPs, some of whom live in penthouses in Manhattan, such as one with direct knowledge. “
The flap resulted in a new round of calls for Cuomo to step down.
He has been pressured by Democrats and Republicans to resign on both the nursing home scandal and sexual harassment allegations. Some want him to be charged.
“This report from @timesunion detailing Andrew Cuomo’s preference and preferred COVID testing by state health officials in private homes for his family is another big reason why #CuomosGottaGo!” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-Suffolk County, a Republican and potential gubernatorial candidate for next year, wrote on Twitter.
Joseph Spector is the government and policy editor for the Atlantic Group of the USA TODAY Network, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPEC[email protected] or he can be followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany