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New Cuomo Scandal: Gov Accused Of Giving Special Access To Family, Friends For COVID Testing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: flickr/New York Governor's Office

New calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation are ringing loudly following the latest report alleging that he prioritized friends, family, and VIPs in getting tested for COVID-19 at the outset of the outbreak last year.

The newest controversy for Cuomo comes amid a new report that he used state resources to prioritize testing for certain parties, including his siblings, mother, and influential people with ties to the administration at a time when COVID-19 tests were scarce.

Among the new allegations is that a New York State Police trooper was sent to Chris Cuomo’s South Hampton home more than once to collect samples last March. Those samples were then driven hours to the Wadsworth state testing lab in Albany for expedited testing on the sample.

It is alleged that those in Cuomo’s inner circle were given priority at Wadsworth, which was the primary testing spot for COVID-19 at the beginning of the outbreak. They were reportedly referred to as “critical samples” and often jumped to the front of the line at the lab.

Others who reportedly gave special treatment include Cuomo’s mother, his sister, and some top officials that include MTA chairman Pat Foye, Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, other state lawmakers, and their families.

Foye and Cotton both announced last March that they had tested positive for COVID-19, and were tested after exhibiting symptoms, according to the MTA.

The new controversy was first reported by the Times Union and New York Times late on Wednesday, March 24.

Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi issued a statement following the latest allegations, saying that at the beginning of the pandemic, the state was stressing contact tracing, and they were “going above and beyond to get people tested - including some instances going to people’s homes to take samples.”

He also noted that at the beginning of the outbreak, door-to-door testing was common, with many public nurses being driven to private homes in New Rochelle, which was at the epicenter of the outbreak last year, to conduct testing.

“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past,” he said in a statement. “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."

CNN also released a statement defending both Cuomos, citing Chris Cuomo coming down with COVID-19 near the beginning of the pandemic.

“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees,” they said. 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.”

Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is reportedly considering running for Cuomo’s seat when his term is up in 2022, jumped on the latest scandal for the governor, renewing his calls for his resignation.

“This latest report of prioritizing his family members for COVID testing at private residences conducted by state Health Department officials and having their tests moved to the front of the line at Wadsworth adds to a very long list of reasons why Cuomo’s Gotta Go.”

Despite the controversies surrounding him, Cuomo has remained steadfast that he will not step down, and denied that any of the ongoing scandals limits his ability to lead or govern the state.

“I say it's clearly not true, because the reality is the exact opposite," Cuomo said during a briefing on March 24. "We're opening new vaccination centers all over the state. We've increased capacity dramatically.

“You've seen me doing that when negotiating the budget as we speak, and we've been doing that we're making good progress on that. So they were just wrong." 

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