Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing new questions about whether he abused the power of his office in the early days of the pandemic.
According to multiple reports, the governor prioritized COVID-19 testing for his family and others in March 2020 when testing was scarce.
The Albany Times Union and Washington Post report high-level members of the state Health Department were directed by Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to prioritize testing on the governor's relatives and influential people with ties to the administration.
According to the reports, that included the governor's brother, Chris Cuomo, and MTA head Patrick Foye.
An MTA spokesperson released a statement, saying: "Chairman Foye in late March last year was exhibiting symptoms, got tested and was found to be positive. He quarantined under federal and state health guidelines, which helped prevent the spread."
Officials in the Cuomo administration say testing was not preferential.
A spokesperson for the Health Department released a statement, saying, “You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity. More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics. We’ve built a nation-leading testing infrastructure to ensure that anybody who needs a test could get one.”
Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to the governor, also released a statement, saying, "We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past. 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."