“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.”
As the behind-the-scenes effort to secure tests for those with ties to the governor and the administration unfolded, most New Yorkers who believed they might have been exposed to the virus were confronted with what doctors, hospital administrators and health officials described as a confused and troubled state testing system. The result was widespread frustration and, for many people, concern about an illness that might be going undetected.
With the federal government scrambling to meet the demand for testing and New York becoming the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, the state-run Wadsworth Center in Albany was for a time the only laboratory in the state that was approved to perform virus tests. Even then, the Wadsworth lab had the capacity to process only a few hundred samples.
Many state residents could not get tested, and those with mild symptoms were often told to quarantine at home rather than attempt to be tested. Many never learned whether their Covid-like symptoms were the result of the novel virus.
Lab capacity in the state increased quickly last March but was still limited as of late in the month, when Chris Cuomo was tested, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter. His test came back positive.
A CNN spokesman said the company did not typically comment on its employees’ medical decisions.
“However,” the spokesman, Matt Dornic, added, “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.”