Learn more about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose daily briefings about the COVID-19 pandemic are comforting viewers alarmed by President Trump’s own shocking addresses.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is receiving major praise for his informative, and often blunt, briefings — even from past critics. Cuomo, 62, has governed New York for nine years, sometimes not popularly, but his public perception has changed in the time of coronavirus. Cuomo’s daily briefings became the much-needed antithesis to President Donald Trump‘s own addresses from the White House, telling New Yorkers about the realities of COVID-19’s impact on the state and New Yorkers’ lives. There are currently over 92,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state, including over 47,439 in NYC alone. At least 2,300 in the state have died. Here’s what you need to know about Governor Cuomo, who has sparked the hashtag #presidentcuomo, as he continues to lead the response to the deadly virus:
1. He’s part of a political dynasty. Cuomo’s father is former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. He started his career in politics as his father’s campaign manager in 1982, then joining his staff as one of his policy advisors after Mario won the election, and only earned $1 a year for his salary (he also lived with him in Albany). Mario Cuomo served three terms as Governor of New York, leaving office in 1994.
2. His brother is CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. The governor’s appearances on his brother’s CNN show, Cuomo Prime Time, are highly-anticipated after they started hilariously sparring on camera. One March interview ended with the brothers arguing about who needs to call their mother next. Chris called his brother a “liar who ruined the credibility of the interview” for saying he already spoke to their mom. During another interview, he pestered his brother about whether or not he’d run for president. The governor called him “the meatball of the family.” You need to watch this immediately.
When Chris announced on March 31 that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the governor had nothing but sweet things to say during that day’s briefing: “Now, he is going to be fine. He’s young, in good shape, strong. Not as strong as he thinks,” he joked. “But he’ll be fine. [Chris is] really sweet, beautiful guy. And he’s my best friend. My father was always working, so it was always just me and Chris.”
3. He was President Bill Clinton’s HUD Secretary. Cuomo joined the Clinton administration in 1993 as Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. He served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1997 to 2001.
4. As governor, he’s an advocate for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Cuomo is known for championing the Women’s Equality Act in 2013, which contained 10 component bills about domestic violence, human trafficking, and pregnancy discrimination. The 10th bill, the Reproductive Health Act, garnered criticism from conservative politicians, though. The bill would have “enshrine[d] in state law existing federal protections for abortion rights,” “shift[ed] the state’s abortion law from the criminal code to the health care laws,” and “[made] it clearer that licensed health care practitioners as well as physicians could perform abortions.” The Women’s Equality Act passed in 2015, minus the abortion bill.
However, a revised version of the Reproductive Health Act did pass in 2019. Cuomo legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, four years before the Supreme Court made it the law of the land.
5. He was in two high-profile relationships. Cuomo was married to Kerry Kennedy, RFK‘s daughter, in 1990. They have three daughters together: twins Cara and Mariah, 25, and Michaela, 22. They divorced in 1995. Cuomo began dating Food Network star Sandra Lee in 2006. The couple moved in together in 2011, and never married — a bit scandalous, considering he’s a devout Catholic. They announced their breakup in September 2019.