New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is once again at the center of another scandal related to his management of COVID-19. This time, however, it involves his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo:
Chris Cuomo announced on March 31 last year that he had tested positive for the virus.
The Times Union reports:
Senior members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct priority coronavirus testing on the governor’s family members, as well as influential people with ties to the administration, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Members of Cuomo’s family, including his brother, mother and at least one of his sisters, were also tested by senior health department officials, some of them multiple times, the sources said.
The move to prioritize testing of people closely linked to Cuomo was carried out by top state health officials, one of the people said. It mostly came in March 2020, as the severity of the virus was still becoming apparent to the general public and testing was not widely available.
Among the medical officials hired to conduct the tests, which often took place in private residences, was Dr. Eleanor Adams, a Harvard Medical School graduate epidemiologist who in August became a special adviser to Zucker. Adams performed the tests on Cuomo’s brother, Chris, at his Long Island residence, according to the two people.
The revelation comes as Cuomo faces the most significant crisis of his political career, with many of his fellow elected Democrats in New York calling on him to resign in the face of multiple sexual harassment allegations that have seen the light of day in recent weeks, as well as questions raised by his administration’s handling of the deaths of nursing home residents from the coronavirus, with numerous deaths hidden by his administration.
This is now not only a political scandal, but a media scandal. We already know how Chris Cuomo violated journalistic ethics by covering for his brother. And now, according to Times Union, it appears that Andrew was using his power to give special VIP evidence to his brother Chris Cuomo.
The revelation of the preferred evidence could pose a new challenge to the already beleaguered Cuomo administration. State law prohibits officials from using their position of power and privilege to obtain “privileges or exemptions” for themselves or others, or to attempt to do so.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, did not explicitly deny that the administration has granted special treatment to anyone, although it is true that Azzopardi tried to refute that notion.
“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a big emphasis on contact tracing, we did everything we could to get people tested,” he said, adding that the effort included “in some cases 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 others from developing the disease.