Disgusting. Officials in Andrew Cuomo’s administration deny that the governor misappropriated state resources to favor family, friends, and allies in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, multiple sources paint a much different picture for the Washington Post. Not only did those people get special access to resources, staffers were ordered to provide it:
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s relatives and other well-connected New Yorkers were among those given preferential treatment at state coronavirus testing centers. State troopers were on standby to rush their samples to a lab to be expedited. And those with priority status got results within hours or a day compared to a wait of up to a week that other New Yorkers faced at the time.
Seven individuals with firsthand knowledge of testing practices said that some people with access to power were able to largely bypass the overburdened resources available to the general public when the pandemic first gripped New York last year. …
But people familiar with the efforts said they were also told to treat individuals differently because of their connections to the governor.
During the early frenetic weeks in March 2020, officials working at testing sites rapidly assembled a system that gave special treatment to people described by staff as “priorities,” “specials,” “inner circle” or “criticals,” according to five people, including three nurses, who described how resources were redirected to serve those close to the governor and other cases that were fast-tracked.
“They were treated like royalty,” one nurse bitterly recalled about the special access given to the Cuomo family. And no one got more princely treatment than Chris Cuomo and his family, the Post’s sources declare. While the governor ordered COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes, the person in charge of handling testing spent hours focusing on one home in particular — the CNN anchor’s home:
And a top state physician whose pandemic portfolio involved coordinating testing in nursing homes was dispatched multiple times to the Hamptons home of CNN host Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother, in testing visits that sometimes stretched hours, according to two people with knowledge of the consultations. …
Among Cuomo relatives, Chris Cuomo’s family received attention that appeared to go beyond that of others, receiving multiple visits at their Hamptons home from Department of Health physician Eleanor Adams, according to two people familiar with the visits.
At the time, Adams had a senior role for the state, coordinating testing issues for high-risk settings such as nursing homes. Cuomo’s home in Southampton is roughly 90 miles from New York City.
Consider this a crossing-the-scandal-streams point for Cuomo. He’s already under fire for covering up the data on nursing-home deaths and falsifying reports on the issue. Both the state legislature and the state attorney general have investigations into that scandal in operation. Now we have allegations that Cuomo misappropriated the very state resources that dealt with that situation to provide off-the-books medical care for his brother and other members of his family, while Cuomo left seniors trapped to die with the sick patients he ordered back into those facilities.
Disgusting doesn’t even begin to cover this corruption. If these allegations are accurate, Cuomo created a two-tier public-health system — one for the hoi polloi, and one for the elites as defined by their proximity to the petty tyrant in Albany. It’s exactly the kind of stratification that undermines confidence in self-governance, and antithetical to the egalitarian American ideal. We do not elect royalty; we elect public servants.
This once again calls into question what CNN knew and when it knew it. After getting this almost-priceless health-care support and favorable treatment, Chris Cuomo spent the next two months promoting his brother on the air as the epitome of pandemic leadership. In the broadcast world, that’s known as payola — the promotion of a product or person on air after receiving undisclosed gifts. When will other media outlets demand an answer from CNN about the implications of this corruption — and why Cuomo remains on the air?