The Washington Post ran a brutal "behind-the-scenes" report on how Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prioritized COVID testing in the early months of the pandemic, including how his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, allegedly received treatment "beyond" others on the so-called VIP list.
According to sources, more than "100 individuals" with close ties to the governor were referred to as "priorities," "specials," "inner circle" or "criticals" and were "logged in an electronic data sheet that was kept separate from a database for the general public."
The Post reported that Dr. Eleanor Adams, a top New York physician who was tasked by the Cuomo administration to coordinate COVID testing in nursing homes, was "dispatched multiple times" to Chris Cuomo's home in the Hamptons, where visits "sometimes stretched hours."
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"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," the Post wrote. "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."
CNN spokesman Matt Dornic told the Post, "As we have already said, we generally do not comment on employees’ medical care and we have nothing more to add."
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Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi stated, "There was no ‘VIP’ program as the Washington Post describes — when priority was given, it was to nurses, guardsmen, state workers and other government officials central to the pandemic response and those they were in direct contact with, as well as individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID who had the capability to spread it further and impact vital operations."
Despite denials from Cuomo's office, medical staff who worked at state testing sites alleged "they were told to provide special access for people with ties to Cuomo," an arrangement that the Post reported "made them deeply uncomfortable."
"I’m trained that there is no such thing as a preferential medicine. We don’t say ‘this person is more important so their results are more important.’ That’s just not fair," a COVID testing nurse told the Post. "Yet here we have somebody who is being pushed to the front of the line for no reason. It was like, ‘Oh, your test matters.’ And we know why. It’s because of who you are, not because of anything medical."
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The nurse reportedly was dispatched outside New Rochelle where COVID operations took place to "test patients in private residences and hotel rooms, with instructions that those individuals were part of Cuomo’s orbit." A nurse at a state-run testing center recalled a "frantic effort to prepare" for the arrival of Cuomo's family.
"They were treated like royalty," the nurse said. "I didn’t understand why they were able to jump the line."
Among the alleged VIPers was clothing designer and the governor's brother-in-law Kenneth Cole, whose COVID test was "rushed" to a state trooper and was driven to Wadsworth lab in Albany.