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Cuomo Investigation by U.S. Examines Coronavirus Tests for ‘Specials’

State officials said Ms. DeRosa contacted the health commissioner, Howard Zucker, after she learned that her father had met with a client who, days after their meeting, was hospitalized with Covid-19. Ms. DeRosa had been staying with her father at the time, as she sometimes did when in Albany, the officials said. (The client later died from complications of Covid-19.)

The officials said the Health Department then decided Mr. DeRosa should be tested as a priority because of his daughter’s close and regular contact with the governor and others involved in the pandemic response, the state officials said. Ms. DeRosa was also tested.

Mr. DeRosa was granted an appointment at a temporary testing tent at the Albany Medical Center during the third week in March last year. The site was open to the public, but appointments were hard to come by, the people said. At the time, very few people, even those with symptoms, were able to receive tests anywhere in New York.

A well-known fixture in Albany, Mr. DeRosa works for Bolton-St. Johns, a lobbying firm that counts among its clients a powerful hospital industry group, the Greater New York Hospital Association. The association has close ties to the governor and was given a prominent role in the pandemic response.

Mr. DeRosa’s sample, like those of Mr. Cuomo’s family, was rushed to Wadsworth, where it was processed within hours, the people said. Mr. DeRosa did not respond to a request for comment.

The “specials” designation was meant to help facilitate contact tracing and prevent outbreaks, according to four people with knowledge of the effort. The ability to prioritize tests and rush results was necessary, particularly early in the pandemic and at times, like last summer, when commercial labs were seeing long wait times for results.

Health officials needed a way to identity positive cases quickly when necessary, isolate them and quarantine their contacts, the people said. The prioritization was mostly used in that manner, they added.

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