New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker directed senior members of the state’s health department to prioritize members of the governor’s family and his close associates for coronavirus testing early in the pandemic when tests were scarce, the Albany Times-Union reports. Top health department staff reportedly tested Cuomo’s brother, mother, and sister, often at their private homes. Staff at the Wadsworth Center laboratory often moved samples from those close to the governor to the front of the queue, sources told the Times-Union.
The governor’s office denied allegations of preferential treatment. In a statement, a spokesman said, “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.”