Cuomo’s family given special access to COVID-19 testing as pandemic raged in NY
The privileged patients had special access to state-administered tests and access to a top state doctor and other state health officials.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of giving his family members and other figures priority access to coronavirus testing and care at the height of the pandemic.
The Washington Post reported the governor arranged for his family members and other people to have special privileges that included access to state-administered coronavirus tests and dispatching a top state doctor and other state health officials to their homes. The state lab processed the COVID-19 tests immediately while other New York residents faced dire conditions and a lack of resources that limited testing availability.
According to the report, tests were sometimes rushed by police escort to the Wadsworth Center, where employees were kept past their shifts to process results of those close to Cuomo, and results were only marked by initials or numbers for secrecy. State nurses were sent out in two-person swabbing teams to test “dozens” of VIPs, including some living in penthouses in Manhattan a source told the Post.
“We referred to them as ‘specials,’ ” the person said to the news platform.
“The special treatment by knowing someone, or by being a well-off person is extremely frustrating, particularly when we’ve seen over and over again the absolute incredible disparities with covid-19. The people who really needed testing, needed treatment and needed attention early on were the people who were the least well-off and the most exposed,” said Lisa M. Lee, an an epidemiologist and bioethicist at Virginia Tech to the Post.
According to the outlet, New York law bans any state official from using or attempting to use “his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others, including but not limited to, the misappropriation to himself, herself or to others of the property, services or other resources of the state for private business or other compensated non-governmental purposes.”
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo, issued a statement to the news outlet on the matter.
“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,” he said.
Azzopardi continued, “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.”
The testing privilege allegations only add to Gov. Cuomo’s latest scandals. He has recently come under fire for allegedly underreporting nursing home deaths due to COVID-19. theGrio reported Cuomo and his team rewrote a document and removed the fact more than 9,000 nursing home residents by that point in June had died of coronavirus. The administration allegedly feared action from former President Donald Trump.
Gov. Cuomo also has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by multiple women. According to theGrio, several New York Democrats have called for Cuomo to resign amid allegations by at least six women. The New York State Assembly has also opened an impeachment inquiry.
Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother and a reporter and anchor for CNN, has confirmed he will not cover the allegations due to journalistic ethics and integrity.
“Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother,” Chris Cuomo said on his show. “Obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
The younger Cuomo was also called out in the vaccine testing privilege report. During the beginning of the pandemic, he confirmed his positive diagnosis on-air. The Post reported CNN has stood firm behind its host as the news continues to question Gov. Cuomo’s ethical practices.
According to the Post, in a statement, CNN spokesman 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.”
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