As controversies regarding nursing home patients and undercounted COVID-19 deaths and allegations of sexual harassment threaten to derail New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s career, he is also facing new allegations that at the beginning of the pandemic, he gave orders to have members of his family and other influential people priority testing.

The Albany Times-Union, citing three sources who claimed to have direct knowledge of the order, reports that the governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo, his mother, and at least one of his sisters, were able to receive tests early on, when there were shortages, and even received them several times. Others who received early priority testing included Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife, and Patrick J. Foye, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In addition to private tests administered at their residences, their samples were also reportedly moved to the front of the line for testing at the Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany, which served as the primary testing spot at the time.

Foye, Cotton and Chris Cuomo were all among those who publicly announced they had tested positive for coronavirus in March, with Foye reportedly being tested after exhibiting symptoms.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Governor Cuomo, told the Times-Union that the tests were a part of an effort to test as many people as possible to develop a contact tracing program, citing door-to-door testing that was also happening in New Rochelle, which had been the state’s first hot spot location for cases.

“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contract 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 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,” he said. “Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared that had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it.”

CNN Spokesman Matt Dornic released a statement after the story broke stating that it wasn’t surprising that when Chris Cuomo began to show symptoms for the virus that he used the resources he had at his disposal, which included the connection to his brother.

“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees,” the statement read. “However, it is not surprising that in the earliest days of the 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.”

The new controversy comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo being under investigation for alleged sexual harassment. Multiple women have come forward with allegations against him, ranging from inappropriate comments, uncomfortable moments and groping. The Governor has denied all of them and refused to resign, pending an investigation.

The Governor is also facing a probe after it was revealed that nursing home deaths were undercounted during the pandemic.

Three women have accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of harassment, including two former aides
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo AFP / Johannes EISELE