The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s criminal inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s coronavirus handling has expanded to the governor’s unequal distribution of COVID-19 tests in the early days of the pandemic, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Federal investigators will now examine reports from March detailing how Cuomo’s office gave VIPs, including the governor’s brother, access to tests and state-lab resources in March of 2020, when New York City was inundated with cases and tests were all but impossible to come by.
Previously, the federal probe, announced in February, focused on the Cuomo administration’s alleged cover-up of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, in which aides reportedly lobbied the state health commissioner not to release the total number of nursing-home deaths to the public or to lawmakers. His aides also reportedly rewrote a New York State Department of Health document on deaths in nursing homes. These efforts, among others, appear to be designed to limit the damage from the governor’s order requiring nursing homes to accept residents who had been discharged from hospitals after being treated for the coronavirus. It took until February for the administration to officially update the toll, from 8,500 to almost 15,000. The update only came after state Attorney General Letitia James accused the governor of underreporting these deaths by almost 50 percent.
According to the Wall Street Journal, that criminal inquiry will also now include Cuomo’s reported decision to allow political insiders and his family to gain access to a state-administered testing program. In March 2020, VIPs like the governor’s brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, allegedly received home visits from New York health officials administering scarce COVID tests. The samples were then driven from the Hamptons to Albany, where state employees stayed past the end of their shifts to process them.
Unfortunately, for a governor attempting to focus on the good news of progressive legislation and post-pandemic reopening, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s probe isn’t the only investigation he and his office are facing. James’s office is also investigating multiple claims of sexual harassment from current and former aides, while State Assembly Democrats are examining these allegations as part of an impeachment inquiry.