A pharmaceutical company executive with ties to New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoHere's who should (and should not) replace Chris Cuomo at CNN The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - New vaccine mandate in NYC; Biden-Putin showdown Batya Ungar-Sargon discusses Cuomo brothers' delayed downfall MORE (D) received special access to COVID-19 tests during the beginning of the pandemic, The New York Times reported Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Regeneron told The Hill on Friday that the company's president, George Yancopoulos, asked the state for access to COVID-19 tests when “household members became infected with COVID-19.”
The state reportedly granted access to the tests and the family was tested at home in March 2020, according to the newspaper.
Hala Mirza, another spokesperson for Regeneron, told the Times that Yancopoulos was an "essential worker" and did not want to pose a risk to teams he was working with amid the pandemic.
“As an essential worker, leading and meeting regularly with his research team, and to ensure Dr. Yancopoulos was not posing a risk to this team, Regeneron requested testing from the state for his household after a household member became infected with Covid-19,” Mirza said, according to the Times.
The company asked for COVID-19 tests for Yancopoulos's family during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which ravaged the state of New York, and in particular, New York City. Coronavirus testing was severely limited at the time.
In a statement to The Hill on Friday, a spokesperson for Cuomo's office said: ”We should avoid insincere, hypocritical 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 tested -- including in some instances going to people’s homes to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones."
“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, democratic and republican legislators, and reporters — including local and national reporters — state workers and their families, and those believed would be in direct contact with the Governor,” added Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for the governor's office.
The news from the Times comes amid a tumultuous time for Cuomo, as the governor faces multiple scandals including several allegations of sexual misconduct and his administration's mishandling of coronavirus data in nursing homes.
The Albany Times Union reported Wednesday that family members of Cuomo's including his brother, CNN anchor Chris CuomoChris CuomoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden discusses Ukraine with Putin 61 percent indicate CNN was right to remove Cuomo: poll Here's who should (and should not) replace Chris Cuomo at CNN MORE, received priority testing last year.
In 2018, Regeneron was given $140 million by the state development agency to expand the company's operations in the capital region, the Times noted.
The New York Times reported that after the company president received the coronavirus tests, Cuomo announced on April 1 that Regeneron would provide 500,000 kits for testing samples to the state for free.
The company said that Yancopoulos was not involved in the donation of testing kits, according to the Times.
“We are disturbed by the negative and false insinuations, which undermine the relentless efforts of the Regeneron people during an incredibly challenging time,” the Regeneron spokesperson told The Hill on Friday.
The New York Assembly judiciary committee is conducting an investigation into allegations that Cuomo gave priority access to state-run coronavirus tests to family and other connected people. The judiciary has also launched a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct and accusations that the Cuomo administration misrepresented coronavirus death data in state nursing homes.
“Everything brought to the committee’s attention is going to be considered and investigated,” Assemblyman Charles Lavine, chair of the judiciary committee, told The New York Times. “I will only say inquiries have been made. We’re paying attention to it and will act accordingly.”
Updated on Friday at 4:05 p.m.