Gov. Cuomo ordered NY health officials to prioritize testing family at the start of pandemic


Gov. Cuomo ordered NY health officials to prioritize testing his mom, sister and CNN anchor brother Chris COVID in March 2020 – months before members of the public had easy access to screenings

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed members of his family to be tested for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic
  • At the time, ordinary New Yorkers struggled to get tested for the virus
  • Cuomo’s office defended the move, saying it was done as part of extensive contact tracing

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered top-level state health officials to test his family members, including his mother and CNN host brother Chris Cuomo, for COVID-19.  

The medical officials enlisted to do the testing – often done at private residences – included Dr Eleanor Adams, a Harvard Medical School graduate who has since become a special adviser to Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, The Albany Times Union reported.

Testing on Cuomo’s family members came at the height of the pandemic when ordinary New Yorkers struggled to get access to screenings. 

Chris Cuomo announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31 but testing had occurred at his Long Island home early in the pandemic. Gov. Cuomo’s mother and one of his sisters also received test early in the pandemic.

‘If their job was to go test an old lady down in New Rochelle, that’s one thing — that’s actually good,’ a source familiar with the matter said. ‘This was not that.’ 

Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, were both given priority testing. Both of their wives were also given priority testing, along with members of the media, state legislators and their staff. 

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said that to suggest that there was preferential treatment as ‘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,’ Azzopardi said. 

‘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.’ 

But sources familiar with the matter said that the ‘sampling missions’ unsettled some of the high-level health department officials tasked with collecting the samples – including Adams.  

‘To be doing sort of direct clinical work was a complete time-suck away from their other duties,’ the source said. ‘It was like wartime.’

  

 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered top-level state health officials to test his family members, including his mother and CNN host brother Chris Cuomo, for COVID-19

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