Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration arranged special access to government-run coronavirus testing for members of his family and other influential people as the pandemic swept into New York last year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The move to make testing of people closely tied to Mr. Cuomo a priority was carried out by high-ranking state health officials, one of the people said. It came as the seriousness of the virus was still becoming clear to the broader public and testing was not widely available to most people.
Among those who benefited from the special treatment was the governor’s brother, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, and his family, who were tested several times in the pandemic’s early phase, this person said. (Chris Cuomo announced on March 31 last year that he had tested positive for the virus.)
That the governor’s administration effectively let well-connected people cut the line to determine whether they had been infected with a deadly virus that was ravaging the state was reported earlier by The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., and The Washington Post.
The revelation comes as Mr. Cuomo confronts the most significant crisis of his political career, with many of his fellow elected New York Democrats calling for him to resign in the face of multiple sexual harassment allegations and questions about his administration’s handling of the virus-related deaths of nursing home residents.
The State Assembly opened an impeachment investigation this week to examine both issues, while the state attorney general has started a separate inquiry and federal prosecutors are investigating the nursing home matter.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, did not explicitly deny that the administration had extended special treatment to anyone while also seeking to dispute the notion.
“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing,” he said, adding that the effort included “in some instances going to people’s homes — and door-to door-in places like New Rochelle — to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to Covid in order to identify cases” and to prevent others from developing the disease.
He added: “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.”
Luis Ferré Sadurní contributed reporting.