Report: Health officials told to prioritize Cuomo's relatives for COVID-19 testing

Updated: March 25, 2021 05:30 PM
Created: March 24, 2021 07:38 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New allegations against the Cuomo administration claim Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker directed high-level members of the state Department of Health to prioritize Cuomo's relatives and people with ties to the administration for COVID-19 testing last year.

That's according to The Times Union of Albany.

The newspaper is reporting that Chris Cuomo, their mother and at least one of Cuomo's sisters were tested by top health department officials, some several times, often at their homes, and that their samples were often moved to the front of the line at the Wadsworth testing center and given priority.

At the time this was allegedly happening, testing supplies were limited and many people had a hard time getting tested.

The report also says Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife, Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and his wife, members of the media, state legislators and their staff were tested similarly.

Cuomo administration officials told the Times Union testing was not preferential, and that it was common in the early days of the pandemic for people to be tested from home.

On Thursday afternoon, News10NBC asked Monroe County Executive Adam Bello about the allegations.

"Well, if these reports are true, what happened here is wrong," Bello said. "Using government resources for your personal gain, I think is wrong and is completely inappropriate."

Cuomo's Senior Advisor, Rich Azzopardi, released the following statement on the allegations:

“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 -- 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.”

Gary Holmes, a New York State Department of Health spokesperson released the following statement on the allegations:

“You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity. More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics. We’ve built a nation-leading testing infrastructure to ensure that anybody who needs a test could get one. That work continues today.”

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