New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has won an International Emmy award for his daily COVID-19 briefings during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States last spring, which particularly devastated the state.
The governor earned praise for his decisive approach early on in the pandemic, as cases and deaths surged and hospitals in New York City became overwhelmed.
Cuomo’s daily briefings, which were data heavy, blunt and usually aided by a PowerPoint presentation, stood in stark contrast to those given by US President Donald Trump, who has been accused of downplaying and politicising the virus.
The International Emmy Awards said Cuomo would receive the Founders Award during a livestreamed event on Monday in recognition of his leadership and “masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world”.
International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences President and CEO Bruce Paisner said Cuomo’s effort “effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure”.
“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.”
The organisation noted that Cuomo, on March 2, kicked off his first of 111 consecutive daily briefings. It is the first time the award will be given to a politician who is still in office, according to National Public Radio.
New York has begun to see a new surge in COVID-19 cases, with public schools in New York City shuttering on Thursday as the city passed a three percent positivity test rate.
In late September, the city’s school systems were one of the first to reopen in the country.
At least 11.9 million cases have been recorded in the US to date, with New York state accounting for about 34,000 of the over 254,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported since the pandemic began.
During a Friday news conference, Cuomo called the recognition “flattering” and said he was accepting the award on behalf of all New Yorkers.
However, some have been quick to highlight Cuomo’s perceived shortcomings during the pandemic, particularly a directive in March that instructed nursing homes to accept individuals who had or were believed to have contracted COVID-19.
That order was changed in May, but not before 6,326 coronavirus-positive patients were admitted to state nursing homes. Cuomo’s office has maintained he was following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines at the time.
Others have said ongoing discord between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has muddied some aspects of the COVID-19 response.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams tweeted on Saturday that Cuomo nevertheless “did what no other leader did effectively. He provided calm briefings at a time millions were terrified”.
Williams added: “Sadly, his simultaneous decisions had preventable errors that cost lives.”