NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York State Assembly committee investigating the possible impeachment of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expanding its probe.
It will now include new reports the governor arranged privileged COVID-19 testing for his family and close connections in the early days of the pandemic, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
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There was much public fanfare when Gov. Cuomo got himself tested for the coronavirus last year.
But the embattled governor said not a word — not a peep — about the fact that, at a time when COVID tests were hard to come by for the average person, he arranged special tests for members of his family and other well-connected New Yorkers.
According to the Albany Times Union, it wasn’t just that Cuomo arranged the tests for his mother, Matilda; his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo; and a sister.
He also reportedly sent top-flight health department officials to their homes to do the test — Southampton, in Chris Cuomo’s case.
State trooper escorts reportedly rushed the samples to the Albany lab, and the governor reportedly ordered lab officials to move these so-called “critical samples” to the front of the line for testing.
The governor’s brother was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March 2020, and the governor often appeared on his show, Cuomo Prime Time.
“This is gonna be fine, you are gonna get through it,” Gov. Cuomo said to his brother during a daily briefing on April 2, 2020.
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Others who reportedly got special testing treatment were Rick Cotton, head of the Port Authority, and Pat Foye, who runs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Both tested positive.
A spokesperson for the governor denied preferential treatment.
“We were absolutely going above and beyond to get testing, including in some instances going to people’s homes,” the spokesperson said. “Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families.”
But Assemblyman Ron Kim, a strident critic of Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home policies, was appalled by the reported special treatment given to the governor’s friends and relatives.
“In a pandemic, where we needed a governor that prioritized the need of our most vulnerable members in our community, he chose to protect his inner circles and his family first,” Kim said.
Kim said he and his wife got sick last year. They had to call the state COVID hotline to get a test.
“It took them almost a month, one month, to call us back to set an appointment. That’s what most New Yorkers were going through, just dealing with getting sick, by themselves isolated, not knowing what was going to happen to them,” Kim said.
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A State Police spokesperson said troopers transported thousands of test specimens to the Albany lab during the early days of the pandemic. It was always by car, not helicopter or plane. Hundreds of troopers were involved.