Here’s Why Andrew Cuomo’s Daily Press Briefings Feel Like Group Therapy

They're our daily dose of reassurance and comfort.

By Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.
April 3, 2020

Though it has only been a few weeks since the coronavirus outbreak forced us all into our homes, our old lives seem like a distant memory. We’re living a real-life “Groundhog Day” scenario, where we wake up each morning only to realize that things are exactly the same as the day before. And as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths rise by the day, it can be difficult to keep up with the news — especially for those of us living with anxiety. But in the midst of all the uncertainty, a surprising source of comfort has emerged: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings.

If you haven’t watched one yet, Cuomo takes about an hour each afternoon — typically starting between 11:30 a.m. and noon EST — to speak directly to New Yorkers (and the rest of the country), updating us on the latest statistics, developments, and guidelines, using his trademark PowerPoint presentations. Though a combination of science, empathy, and dry humor, Cuomo doesn’t sugarcoat the impact of the outbreak, but also manages to come across as reassuring, instead of inciting panic. 

For many viewers, these briefings feel like a group therapy session. Cuomo doesn’t only tell it like it is, he also shares how he’s feeling — letting us know when he’s tired or worried. He discusses his concerns about his own family, including the safety of his elderly mother, and his brother Chris Cuomo, who recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

“The things I hear about most from people about Governor Cuomo’s press conferences is not the statistics that he goes through — it’s when he talks about his family, when he talks about how you should reach out to the people in your life and tell them you love them,” Lis Smith, a longtime Democratic communications operative told Business Insider. “And those are the things that really resonate with people, because people feel really isolated right now. They feel scared. They feel anxious.”

At this point in the coronavirus outbreak, many of us are feeling anxious and alone, and Cuomo’s daily press briefings have become a calming constant in our lives. The idea that people all over the country are also tuning in makes it seem as though we’re coping together. It gives us a way to stay up-to-date with the latest statistics and guidelines in a way that doesn’t make everything seem hopeless, but is also realistic about the severity of the situation. It’s validating to know that other people — including the governor of the state at the epicenter of the outbreak — are also feeling worried, frustrated, and exhausted by all of this, and perhaps most importantly, it makes us feel less alone.

About the writer:

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and writer as well as an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University. She has written for print and online publications, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticRolling StoneCNNFodor’sLifehackerReader’s Digest and Playboy.

Outlier Disclaimer

This site is for educational purposes and not a substitute for professional medical care by a doctor or otherwise qualified medical professional. The information provided by Outlier Magazine is on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.

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