Trainwreck: Chris Cuomo vs. the anti-vax restaurant owner

One of the worst cable news interviews ever. And not in an entertaining way, where the host and the guest yell at each other theatrically.

It’s two low-energy yutzes exchanging halfwitted jabs all the way through.

If I had to score the fight I’d award it to the anti-vaxxer on points, as he landed a decent shot at Cuomo for that time he pretended to emerge from weeks of COVID quarantine in his basement when in reality he’d been spotted out and about in East Hampton days earlier. He might have secured a TKO, though, if he had reminded Cuomo that he got special access to testing last spring by dint of who his brother is while New Yorkers were left to fend for themselves.

Chris cares a lot about the average joe being exposed to COVID when the cameras are rolling, less so when they aren’t.

On the other hand, at least he doesn’t run a restaurant that vice-signals by incentivizing customers not to get vaccinated — and which took PPP money from the federal COVID relief fund despite not lifting a finger to try to reduce the spread of the virus locally. We’re left to wonder how Cuomo thought an interview with someone like that was bound to go. Did he think he was going to shame a hardcore anti-vaxxer into a change of heart live on the air? No, more likely is that he wanted to show this guy off to his audience as evidence of how pigheaded vaccine resisters are, to goose their own sense of moral superiority.

Which is not to suggest that the unvaccinated aren’t to blame for keeping the pandemic going. They are, and the CDC should have acknowledged that more forthrightly in its new guidance, writes Dr. Leana Wen:

And that is the actual problem that the CDC is trying to solve: It wants to get the unvaccinated to put on masks in indoor spaces. Without proof of vaccination, the only way to reliably to do this is to ask the vaccinated to also don our masks. Relying on the honor system was a big fail, and the best way to curb the current surge is to get everyone to mask up again.

That’s what the CDC should have announced: We need a return to indoor mask mandates not because the vaccinated are suddenly a problem, but because we don’t trust the unvaccinated to voluntarily do the right thing. It’s not a commentary about the effectiveness of the vaccine, or even the trickiness of the delta variant, but rather about the failure of unvaccinated Americans to fulfill their societal obligation to act in the interest of everyone’s health.

Right. But not every vaccine holdout is as ideological as Cuomo’s guest. Although it hasn’t gotten much attention in the press yet, the combination of news about the Delta variant and anxiety at the CDC about transmission has quietly led to an uptick in vaccinations in hot spots. There are still persuadables out there:

Louisiana’s top health official told Bloomberg that vaccinations have doubled lately and he expects them to end up tripling or quadrupling. “Everybody knows someone who is sick right now. Those people who are not real anti-vaxxers but were just not real confident are saying, ‘I’m not waiting a day longer,” he said. I’m guessing that reports of the extreme skew in serious cases towards unvaccinated people are also weighing heavily on holdouts: Just today ABC is reporting that an analysis of 50 hospitals in 17 states found that 94 percent of people in ICUs for COVID haven’t had their shots. And of the six percent who have, nearly all have comorbidities or other health problems. Just a single person out of 271 was critical despite having been vaccinated and otherwise in good health.

Here’s the battle of wits that played out last night on CNN.