In this provided by the State of New York, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds up a new Thanksgiving-themed face mask during his daily coronavirus briefing at the Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Corp. Headquarters in Wyandanch, N.Y. After disclosing that he will no longer be celebrating Thanksgiving with his 89-year-old mother …

Source: Joshua Caplan

The New York Times reveals:

A billionaire pharmaceutical company founder with links to embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) received special access to coronavirus tests at the start of the pandemic, according to a Thursday report.

[Regeneron] requested tests from the state for its president, Dr. George Yancopoulos, and his family after a “member of his household became infected with Covid-19,” a company spokeswoman said. State officials granted the request and tested the family at home in March. By then, New York had already become the epicenter of the pandemic, with a frightened populace suddenly confronted with a widespread shutdown in the face of a virus that little was known about. On April 1, Governor Cuomo then announced that Regeneron would create 500,000 kits for testing samples and provide them free of charge to New York State.

The Times‘ report comes after the Times-Union reported that Cuomo instructed state health officials to “prioritize” testing for members of his family, including his mother, Matilda Cuomo, and brother, Christopher Cuomo, a high-profile host at CNN. Both the governor and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker also asked state Department of Health officials to prioritize testing for influential individuals with connections to the Cuomo administration, according to the Albany-based newspaper. In a separate report, the Washington Post said the results of prioritized tests were immediately processed at a state laboratory.

Chris Cuomo announced back in March 2020 that he had contracted the virus, later telling the Associated Press in an interview: “I knew it was just a matter of time, to be honest, because of how often I was exposed to people.” The Post reports that a top New York Department of Health doctor visited the CNN host at his Hamptons home to obtain testing samples from him and members of his family.

A spokesperson for Cuomo attempted to dismiss the reports about prioritized testing, saying in a statement to Reuters, “We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”

“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past. 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,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said.

News of prioritized testing comes as Cuomo faces dueling scandals — allegations of sexual harassment brought forth by multiple women and an alleged cover-up of data regarding nursing home deaths during the pandemic.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating whether aides to the governor provided false data regarding the number of deaths in such facilities, according to the New York Times.