By Joycelin Wong
Despite the hardships and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of essential frontline workers continue to risk their lives to serve their community. These frontliners include doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, grocery store employees, journalists, etc. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, people--who are quarantined at home and practicing social distancing--are relying on news platforms to receive information about the outside world. However, many fail to understand the immense danger that journalists face when reporting the constant stream of news. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is one of the many journalists who has tested positive for COVID-19; however, despite his diagnosis, Cuomo continued to anchor his program “Cuomo Prime Time” from the comfort of his basement, where he is quarantined.
On March 31, 2020, Chris Cuomo released a statement on social media announcing that he had tested positive for the virus. He published, “I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fever, chills and shortness of breath.” Despite his diagnosis and symptoms, Cuomo shared his plans of continuing his show. He ended his post stating, “We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united!”
Later that day, his brother, Governor Cuomo, shared the news of his diagnosis in the midst of his daily televised Coronavirus briefing. During these unprecedented times, many have found comfort where few had sought sustenance before: in the on-air playful banter between the Cuomo brothers. Despite their teasing, Governor Cuomo warned the public, “As smart as Chris is, he couldn’t protect himself. Anyone can get it.”
Later that night, a seemingly ill Cuomo appeared on the TV screens of many. He began his segment asserting, “I tested positive. Scary, yes, as you might imagine, but better me than you. Let’s use this example of me having it as proof that you can get it too.” Expressing his sorrow and distress, Cuomo established himself as an example, cautioning the public that the Coronavirus does not discriminate and everyone is susceptible. Calling for the nation as well as the world to unite, Cuomo vocalized, “Together as one. That is our remedy.” Though looking pale and sickly, he persevered through the program and continued with his interviews.
Following his opening statement, Cuomo discussed the suffering that he was enduring with neurosurgeon and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sharing his anguish and regret, Cuomo expressed, “I can’t hug my kids, and I can’t go be with my family. I don’t know what is going to come next.” Informing Dr. Gupta as well as the audience, Cuomo also alerted everyone about his symptoms. Their interview debunked the popular rumoured treatments of the virus and the severity of the virus’ symptoms. Later, Cuomo interviewed a nurse who was fighting on the frontlines. Providing insight into what is happening behind the scenes in hospitals, Cuomo’s tear-filled interview made the audience feel grateful for our healthcare workers.
Concluding his segment, Cuomo praised, “But you got to love these front line people. They are just the best of us. They give me hope in humanity.” Especially during these fearful times, many people fearlessly sacrifice themselves for the safety of everyone else. Instilling a sense of hope in his audience, Cuomo affirmed, “This is a fight. It is going to get worse. We are going to suffer. You have to accept it, not with fear but with almost a fanatical sense of passion to fight. That is the only way you have ever made it through anything hard in your life, and this will be no different.”
Though powerful, COVID-19 did not have the ability to stop Cuomo from executing his journalistic responsibilities. This episode of “Cuomo Prime Time” is proof that Cuomo has rewritten the norms of journalism and brought comfort to his audience through his words of encouragement.