New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized family members and allies to be tested for covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, when these were scarce and the state became the global epicenter of the virus, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
In addition to prioritizing family members and allies, their tests were also prioritized in the laboratory, which had the capacity to analyze only hundreds of tests per day at the beginning of the pandemic.
On many occasions, the state deployed home physicians to perform the tests, which were then escorted to the lab in Albany by state troopers to expedite the process.
At the lab, samples were handled with secrecy, marked only with initials or numbers.
The governor’s list of beneficiaries includes his brother, Chris Cuomo, one of CNN’s star anchors who was diagnosed with the virus in March 2020.
According to the Post, Chris Cuomo hosted a senior physician from the New York Department of Health at his home to obtain the nasal swab.
Cuomo did not appear on Wednesday on his nightly show on CNN without an explanation from the network as to why.
A spokesman for the governor, Rich Azzopardi, justified to The Washington Post these practices.
“We must avoid disingenuous efforts to rewrite the past. In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we went above and beyond to get people tested, even in some cases, going to their homes,” he said.
“Among those we assisted,” he added, “were people in the general population, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the ability to spread it further.
These revelations of possible influence peddling come at a bad time for Cuomo, beset by several allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power, which have led to numerous calls for his resignation within his own party, the Democrats, and an investigation by the New York District Attorney’s Office.
In addition, federal authorities are investigating him in another case of manipulation of covid-19 death data in New York nursing homes.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said Cuomo should resign if the allegations against him are confirmed.