The routine work of the state’s disease experts – even something as mundane as preparing a leaflet explaining the ins and outs of quarantine and isolation – had to be allowed by what the Dr Dufort calls “the chamber,” short for the “executive chamber,” as the governor’s office and senior advisers are often referred to in Albany, she said.
Bottlenecks in this process meant that some public health guidelines would be issued late or never at all. At one point, her inability to pull out a Covid-19 guidance document she had written for state health providers reduced her to tears, she said.
The “chamber” seemed at times more concerned with managing the flow of information than coordinating an effective response, she said. For some time at the start of the pandemic, as cases were skyrocketing, the governor’s office sent an official “who was very frank with us that he had no public health experience” to lead the process. department’s response to the pandemic.
“He was a person close to the governor who arranges the situations,” she said.
The official, whose name is redacted in the report, insisted that the main state laboratory that analyzed Covid tests at the start of the pandemic, Wadsworth, report his results to the governor’s office before the test results were released. communicated to local health services. This was inappropriate, Dr Dufort said, both because she feared it violated strict confidentiality provisions and because it could delay the transmission of results to New York and other counties.
The senior data health official rushed down the hall crying after receiving the directive and was told she could resign if she didn’t agree, Dr Dufort recalls.
Richard Azzopardi, spokesman for Mr Cuomo, called Dr Dufort’s testimony “second or third hand interpretations of an employee whose only interaction with the governor or his senior staff was during a Covid briefing live”.
“The fact that this line of questioning was even continued in this unrelated case speaks volumes about how this whole situation has been politicized and militarized,” Azzopardi added.