NEW YORK — A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo’s symptoms.
“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It’s going to get worse. We’re going to suffer.”
Cuomo looked pale, his eyes watery and red-rimmed. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He repeated himself. Even Gupta said he didn’t look good, and said he’d call later to talk about a tightness Cuomo was feeling in his chest.
The 49-year-old newsman, whose brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has logged just as much television airtime lately with daily briefings on how the disease is affecting his state, said earlier that he knew it was a matter of time because of how often he was exposed to people. He said he’s staying in the basement of his Long Island home to protect himself from his wife and children.
The New York governor, who appeared with his brother on CNN by remote link the night before, also used the personal story to warn others during his press briefing Tuesday. He noted that he had scolded Chris for having their 88-year-old mother, Matilda, visiting Chris‘ home two weeks ago.
“It’s my family, it’s your family, it’s all of our families,” he said. “This virus is so insidious, and we have to keep that in mind.”
Chris Cuomo said he thought his mom would be safer at his house than in her New York City apartment, but his brother persuaded him to have her stay at his sister’s place in Westchester County.
Some competitors, including Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Channel, and Joy Reid and Ali Velshi of MSNBC, sent best wishes to Cuomo through social media Tuesday.
He said he appreciated the sympathy from well-wishers but tried to deflect it.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep doing the show,” he said. “But who knows?”
One of the most unsettling things about the disease, he said, is hearing from doctors that there really isn’t much he can do now except “suck it up.”
“The best medicine is not to get it – prevention,” he said in a pre-show discussion with colleague Anderson Cooper.
Most people who get the virus have mild to moderate symptoms and recover. But for older people, and those with underlying medical conditions, the disease can be dangerous. More than 3,000 people have died in the U.S. alone.
Andrew Cuomo, 62, and the CNN anchor are sons of the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and that teasing big brother-little brother dynamic often enlivens their appearances together. The governor called him his best friend.
“He is going to be fine,” he said. “He’s young, in good shape, strong – not as strong as he thinks he is, but he will be fine.”
Chris got a measure of revenge Tuesday night, referring to his brother as “Captain Banana Hands.”
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