Family members of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — including his brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo — were given early access to COVID-19 tests before they were widely available last year, according to reports from several media outlets.
Late Wednesday evening, the Albany Times-Union, the New York Times, and the Washington Post reported that Cuomo's brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters all were administered COVID-19 tests by high-ranking state health officials in the early weeks of the pandemic as the state faced a shortage in available testing kits.
Chris Cuomo announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of March last year, and was forced to quarantine in his home away from his family.
A number of other people with ties to Andrew Cuomo's administration also reportedly received tests, including the heads of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority and the New York City MTA.
"Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it," Richard Azzopardi, spokesman for the Cuomo administration, told the New York Times Wednesday.
Azzopardi also explained to the New York Times it was part of the state's early contact tracing efforts, that sometimes included door-to-door sample collection.
According to Section 74 of the New York State Public Officers Law Code of Ethics, government officials are barred from using their position to secure "unwarranted privileges or exemptions" for themselves or others.
"No officer or employee of a state agency, member of the legislature or legislative employee should use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others, including but not limited to, the misappropriation to himself, herself or to others of the property, services or other resources of the state for private business or other compensated non-governmental purposes," the code reads.
In a statement, CNN defended Chris Cuomo's decision to receive COVID-19 tests last March.
"We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global 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," CNN's public relations team said.
Andrew Cuomo is already dealing with an impeachment investigation and calls to resign over sexual harassment allegations and a report that his administration undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing home facilities around the state.
This story was originally published by Tim Meehan on WKBW in Buffalo, New York.