Elizabeth Dufort is State Entity Employee #2 in the AG’s report. In May 2020, Dufort performed a live Covid-test nasal swab on Cuomo during a press conference in front of millions of people. This live test was done to ease people’s fears of taking the test. The press conference was broadly claimed to be effective and positive. She now claims he made gender-based jokes of implied sexual nature.
She is a Public Health, Global Health, and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician and former Medical Director of the Division of Epidemiology at the New York State Department of Health from October 2014 to January 2021. (LinkedIn).
Dufort resigned from her position in January 2021 along with other health bureaucrats. They were feeling disrespected because Cuomo did not implement a vaccination plan that they developed to confront the new challenge. Instead they relied on large hospital systems to scale and speed up vaccinations. According to Dufort’s LinkedIn and internet research she is currently not employed nor working in her profession.
The report concludes Cuomo sexually harassed Dufort based on the following claims:
- During a press conference on May 17, 2020, where Dufort performed a Covid test live in front of cameras, Cuomo said “nice to see you, Doctor – you make that gown look good”.
- In preparation for this Covid test, before the press conference, in response to her saying she “would be gentle, but accurate”, Cuomo made a joke saying “gentle but accurate, I’ve heard that before”.
Interactions in Detail
Before the press conference Dufort told Cuomo that he should be seated for the nasal swab, but he said he wanted to stand. When she tried to persuade him that she could reach him better seated, he pointed at her heeled boots and said something like “You will be fine with those on”.
She then performed a test swab to see if she could reach him. Before she did so, Cuomo asked her not to go too deep and hit his brain. She replied she would be “gentle but accurate”. His responded “gentle but accurate, I’ve heard that before”. She claims this comment had a “sexual overtone”. She further claims he behaved in a flirtatious manner because he was standing very close to her, speaking in a “deeper tone” and that he appeared to be gazing at her.
During the live performance, she wore her personal protective equipment including a face shield and gown. When Cuomo walked towards her for the nasal swab, he said “you make this gown look good”. Dufort claims she was shocked about this comment.
Nothing Cuomo said can be interpreted as being of sexual nature or gender-based by any reasonable person’s standard. Millions of people watched the performance and heard his comment about making the gown look good. How many thought this was harassment?