Around the same time, Kenneth Cole – the fashion designer married to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sister – received preferential coronavirus testing at a public facility.
The stories were among a number of new details revealed by The Washington Post about VIP treatment for coronavirus testing overseen by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Seven people with first-hand knowledge of the alleged patronage – who spoke anonymously for fear of retaliation from the governor – detailed the preferential treatment to the newspaper.
In March 2020, test cases were expedited at state facilities for people described as “priorities”, “specials”, “inner circles” or “critics,” multiple sources told the newspaper. .
In one of the state’s first pandemic operations centers, more than 100 of the cases were kept in a database separate from the general public, according to the report.
Kenneth Cole, the fashion designer married to the governor’s sister, was one person who received priority testing, according to the article.
A leading state doctor – Westchester County Health Department doctor Eleanor Adams has been sent to Southampton several times to test Chris Cuomo, who contracted the virus about a year ago, several said sources in the newspaper.
In other cases, medical personnel have reportedly been dispatched from a coronavirus operations center in New Rochelle to test people in Cuomo’s orbit in private homes and hotel rooms.
A nurse said the practice made her very uncomfortable.
“I learned that there is no preferential medicine. We do not say: “this person is more important, therefore his results are more important”. It’s just not fair, ”the nurse, who worked at two state-run testing sites, told the Washington Post.
“We always heard, ‘This is from the governor’s room.’ What the hell does that mean? Added the nurse.
Another nurse told the newspaper there was a frantic effort to test Cuomo’s family members and send their samples to a state lab in Albany via state soldiers for immediate results.
“I remember them saying, ‘They’re coming, they’re coming,'” the nurse told the newspaper.
“And they said, ‘Have the state soldier ready … have him ready to go to Wadsworth.’ There was a lot of anxiety about these samples getting to the right place. ”
“The word was ‘priority’,” said a nurse, according to the article. “They were saying, ‘We have a priority at 10:00 am, a priority at 11:00 am”. I can’t say that I know they were all important to the governor, but that’s what we were told.
“They were treated like royalty,” the nurse said. “I didn’t understand why they were able to skip the line.”
The VIP tests were given to people “who had the resources and the training means” to see private doctors, a source told the newspaper.
“There is no reason why the state test teams should have been diverted to these people,” the person reportedly said.
The revelations in the article were reprimanded by Albany officials.
“There was no ‘VIP’ program as the Washington Post describes – where priority was given it was to nurses, guards, state officials and other government officials at the heart of the crisis. response to the pandemic and to those with whom they were in direct contact, as well as to individuals. suspected of being exposed to COVID which had the ability to spread it further and impact vital operations, ”Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.
Asked specifically about the allegations of favorable treatment by the governor’s family, Azzopardi reportedly said: “As far as this happened, the governor was not aware. ”
“From a public health perspective, ‘where were you’ and ‘how many people could you have exposed’ are the questions that guided who was given priority – not ‘who you know,’ said the New York Department of Health spokesperson Gary Holmes. the newspaper.
Beau Duffy, a spokesman for the New York State Police, told the Washington Post that “thousands” of samples had been transported to Albany – the only treatment center at the very start of the pandemic.
“I’m not sure there were specific records,” on special requests, Duffy reportedly said.
The charges reportedly led Attorney General Letitia James to ask the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate possible abuses of the testing protocol.
James is investigating a series of alleged sexual harassment charges against the Democrat, as federal officials investigate an alleged Albany cover-up over COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
An impeachment inquiry underway in the Legislature deals with the alleged testing irregularity in addition to other scandals surrounding the governor.
Cuomo has resisted calls to resign from top lawmakers from his own party in Albany and Washington.