UPDATED 2:11 PM PT – Saturday, November 27, 2021
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have projected himself to be calm and rational during his daily COVID briefings, but behind those walls sources said he made impossible demands.
As thousands of New Yorkers were dying from COVID-19, then-New York Gov. Cuomo was basking in his new found fame following the release of his book. However, in recent interviews with Politico, several former State Department of Health officials claimed Cuomo’s behavior behind closed doors was in direct contrast to the “science first” image he tried to portray.
Officials described working for the former governor as a frantic environment, constantly having to respond to Cuomo’s ridiculous demands that were expected to take precedence. One health official said “there were times Cuomo was on a warpath, and if his requests were out long enough he would forget about it and move on to the next thing.”
Former staffers also said decisions that were meant to come from the Department of Health, such as where to send personal protective equipment, would often go through Cuomo’s inner circle. In addition, it was said the governor’s office would override certain metrics like which areas qualified for COVID zones in which Cuomo used to determine the level of reopening restrictions in various regions of the city.
Sources also said the office ordered the Department of Health staff to share incomplete data on hydroxychloroquine with the White House. Some staffers claimed Cuomo would often delay releasing flyers on COVID prevention and nursing home data due to having to approve every communication coming out of the office.
Another former staffer said “it’s crazy how much time he wasted on things like that instead of coming up with a plan for the next weeks, months,” claiming he was not a forward thinking individual.
Sources also said Cuomo mostly did things to make himself look better to the press, adding concerns were raised when he demanded to be tested for COVID during one of his press conferences in front of cameras. This, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting tests be conducted without an audience.
Health Department officials complained that Cuomo’s COVID response team was largely comprised of non-medical experts and as a result, decisions weren’t based on scientific or medical advice.