Andrew Cuomo had family and friends priority tested for Covid-19, Internet says Chris Cuomo should be fired too
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has found himself in the middle of another scandal, this time related to Covid-19 tests. During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the governor allegedly got close friends and family preferential testing from the New York State Department of Health. Those who benefitted from Cuomo's reported directions include brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, mother Matilda Cuomo, several state legislators and other key government officials.
The governor's office has so far denied the allegations, with spokesman and adviser Rich Azzopardi calling them “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.” Nonetheless, the report has become the latest nail in Cuomo's political career. The report could help us understand just how poor the initial response to the pandemic was with many states running out of testing kits and PPE equipment within weeks. It seems like we may now know where some of those kits went.
Andrew Cuomo's fall from grace: From being admired for Covid-19 effort to being mired in sexual harassment claims
Why is Chris Cuomo not covering brother Andrew's sexual assault allegations? Internet says 'take him off air'
Did Cuomo really use the resources of the state to protect friends and family? If the Times Union is right, it seems like he did, putting his family ahead of the general public.
Cuomo puts family ahead of New York
According to the Times Union, the Governor directed the health department to visit and test his friends and family at their homes. The directives were supported by Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker, whose involvement in the scandal is less clear.
In March 2020, public nurses were driven to private residences to test people who either had symptoms or were exposed to the virus. These samples were then taken to the Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany by state police troopers.
One source told the Union that people with close ties to the governor would have their samples (called "critical samples") moved to the front of the line at Wadsworth and be given priority.
At the time, New York was testing most people with symptoms in their residences, especially those in New Rochelle which was the site of the state's first known outbreak. The report claims that along with those who showed symptoms, the department was also frequently testing those with close ties to Cuomo.
Priority testing was given to Dr Eleanor Adams, a special adviser to Dr Zucker, Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Patrick J Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Others who benefitted were state legislators and staff, and members of the media but were not named in the report. Within weeks of the testing beginning, Foye, Cotton and Chris Cuomo all announced that they tested positive for the virus.
"Another person familiar with the matter said the "sampling missions" had unsettled some of the high-level health department officials tasked with collecting the samples at private residences," the Union reported.
"To be doing sort of direct clinical work was a complete time-suck away from their other duties," the person said. "It was like wartime." During the first few months, many people in New York and throughout the nation struggled to get tested for Covid-19 as testing kits were in very short supply.
The administration responded by saying, "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."
Statement from @CNN spokesman Matt Dornic on reports that @ChrisCuomo got special coronavirus testing treatment from NYS officials. pic.twitter.com/4h7fe0Eb6m— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) March 25, 2021
Chris Cuomo has come under repeated fire for not addressing the claims of sexual harassment against his brother, while he covered Cuomo's daily Covid-19 briefings. With news of the scandal breaking, many have targeted his "double standard" approach and asked that he be fired. Others have come out to defend the anchor, leading to a war of words on social media.
'Going after Chris Cuomo is ridiculous'
The breaking story has divided the Internet, with many users tweeting statements like, "Andrew Cuomo needs to be prosecuted. Fredo Chris Cuomo needs to be fired." Another said, "Chris Cuomo is complicit for defending him on CNN and making a mockery of Covid-19. Chris should go too."
Andrew Cuomo needs to be prosecuted.— 🇺🇸 Pismo 🇺🇸 (@Pismo_B) March 25, 2021
Fredo Chris Cuomo needs to be fired. https://t.co/ihei2ztlGv
Chris Cuomo is complicit for defending him on CNN and making a mockery of Covid-19. Chris should go too.— AnnT. 🐈 (@AnnTran29317008) March 25, 2021
Some have also addressed the fact that Chris Cuomo is off air this week, reportedly on vacation. "And Chris Cuomo just happens to be off this week. Perfect timing" tweeted one person. Another said, "Is it a coincidence that Chris Cuomo has been on vacation all week? Seems he knew this story was coming..."
And Chris Cuomo just happens to be off this week. Perfect timing. https://t.co/YsPTkwnPAP— Ravi Yande (@ravireport) March 25, 2021
Is it a coincidence that Chris Cuomo has been on vacation all week? Seems he knew this story was coming...— linguistica (@SLT34257374) March 25, 2021
One user tweeted, "I wonder what other perks Chris Cuomo got besides special priority Covid-19 tests at his home in the Hamptons at the height of the pandemic." Others have strongly defended the CNN anchor, as one user tweeted, "People going after Chris Cuomo because he got a covid test after showing symptoms is ridiculous. #COVID19". Another said, "Chris Cuomo HAD COVID very early in the epidemic. What's the problem?"
I wonder what other perks Chris Cuomo got besides special priority COVID-19 tests at his home in the Hamptons at the height of the pandemic.— Cindy (@RealCindy9) March 25, 2021
People going after Chris Cuomo because he got a covid test after showing symptoms is ridiculous. #COVID19— Maxine Baptiste (@brownsugar7878) March 25, 2021
Chris Cuomo HAD COVID very early in the epidemic. What's the problem? https://t.co/NC6Lneg0wf— DemocracyDame Wears a Mask (@reliablevoter) March 25, 2021
Some defenders roped in Republicans like Trump and DeSantis. A user tweeted, "Chris Cuomo HAD COVID. Allegedly Andrew got his family tested as a result. That's not inappropriate. DeSantis is SELLING VACCINES FOR DONATIONS. BIG difference. Why don't you try living down here? Tell me how you like it."
Another commented, "Boy, everyone feigning to lose their shit over Chris Cuomo and his brother's connections are really going to be upset when they found out the last president granted national security clearance to his idiot son-in-law."
Chris Cuomo HAD COVID. Allegedly Andrew got his family tested as a result. That's not inappropriate.— Deep South Dem Lady 💛🥀🍩🥁💙🇺🇸🇱🇹 #filltheurn (@LitbillyQueen) March 25, 2021
DeSantis is SELLING VACCINES FOR DONATIONS.
Why don't you try living down here? Tell me how you like it.
Boy, everyone feigning to lose their shit over Chris Cuomo and his brother's connections are really going to be upset when they found out the last president granted national security clearance to his idiot son-in-law.— Greg Method (@gregmethod) March 25, 2021
The governor is facing calls for impeachment after multiple women have accused him of sexual harassment and a report of the state covering up nursing home deaths has come to light.
State Attorney General Letitia James is heading a probe into the sexual harassment accusations while the US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the FBI are investigating the nursing home deaths cover-up. It's unclear if there will also be an investigation into this scandal, but it is possible at some point if Cuomo doesn't step down.