New York Governor Andrew Cuomo receives Emmy for daily COVID-19 briefings

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, speaks to members of the press at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 18, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS/STEPHANIE KEITH)
The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with an Emmy for his "masterful" coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.
The academy said that Cuomo would receive this year's International Emmy Founders Award in "recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world."

Typically, the Founders Award would go out to a fictional politician, if anyone at all, such as US Vice President Selina Meyers, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who gained worldwide recognition for her portrayal of Elaine Benes in Seinfeld. Previous winners include Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Simon Cowell, HBO, MTV and one other real politician: former vice president Al Gore.
The award is intended to honor individuals or organizations who "cross-cultural boundaries to touch our common humanity," and, in some capacity, contribute to the quality of television across the world.
"The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” said International Academy president & CEO Bruce L. Paisner in a release announcing the honor. "People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and 'New York tough' became a symbol of the determination to fight back."

CUOMO'S FIRST COVID-19 briefing was broadcast on March 2, during the onset of the outbreak when most countries were just beginning to realize the severity of the situation at hand, and that a public health crisis was looming in the distance. The governor gave 111 consecutive daily press briefings from that day on, allowing New Yorkers to track the progress within the heat of the coronavirus pandemic. The briefings were featured on national news networks such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox, among others – and have drawn a total of 59 million viewers.
However, the recognition is not all shrouded in glory. While Cuomo presented the tough New York strong attitude throughout the entirety of his press briefings, he did single out a few populations along his rise to popularity – including the Orthodox Jewish communities of the Empire State.
Cuomo's administration has also been blamed for the decision ordering nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals, in order to free up hospital beds as medical facilities started becoming overwhelmed with the influx of new coronavirus patients. Thousands of nursing home residents have died in the state of New York since the onset of the pandemic.
Claims were repeated throughout the pandemic – not only by the governor, but also by Mayor Bill de Blasio – that large gatherings of ultra-Orthodox Jews have been responsible for the outbreak of several COVID-19 “clusters” in the state. De Blasio in April singled out "the Jewish community" for holding a "large funeral gathering" during the early months of the pandemic, when countries worldwide hadn't a clue what to do.
During one of Cuomo's October briefings, he used images of mass gatherings by ultra-Orthodox communities in the state to illustrate his claim about the risks of coronavirus spreading from such events.
“Orthodox Jewish gatherings are often very large and we’ve seen what one person can do,” Cuomo said in reference to several super-spreader incidents involving an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. "We know religious institutions have been a problem… Mass gatherings are the super-spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks.
“I don’t mean little violations... I’m talking about when they’re only supposed to have 50 people outdoors, and they had 1,000... You don’t see masks and you see clear violation of social-distancing.”
Both instances drew criticism from the Jewish community as they were viewed as targeted statements and restrictions.

AGUDAT YISRAEL of America, an umbrella body for haredi Orthodox Jews, sued Cuomo in federal court last week after he enacted pandemic restrictions on religious gatherings that the group says are discriminatory, coming just ahead of three important Jewish holidays.
Cuomo’s order, outlined in maps he posted on Twitter, imposes restrictions according to the severity of the coronavirus infection rate in designated areas of New York City and its northern suburbs. Houses of worship in red zones are restricted to 25% capacity or a maximum of ten people; orange zones, 33% capacity or 25 people maximum; and yellow zones, 50% capacity.
Many haredi communities, which have been hard hit by the virus, are aligned with the red zones. The lawsuit notes that Orthodox Jews are especially affected by the worship restrictions because their faith prohibits driving on certain holy days, so they are thus unable to travel to synagogues in less affected zones.
"Blaming Jews for spreading disease is one of the oldest, most dangerous forms of Jew hatred," said The Lawfare Project's executive director Brooke Goldstein. "We denounce the Emmys for rewarding a man who sent COVID patients into nursing homes and then tried to scapegoat Jews for rising death and infection rates. 
"His blatant and bigoted stereotyping belongs in the Middle Ages. An award of this stature should never be presented to someone who peddles exclusionary narratives which harm minority communities," she added. "Andrew Cuomo should never be associated with past Emmy Founder’s Award winners Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey or [former] vice president Al Gore."



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