New York governor Andrew Cuomo is set to receive an International Emmy Founders Award for his daily briefings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, an honour usually reserved for those in the television industry.
The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced on Friday that it will acknowledge Mr Cuomo for his use of the medium and "his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”
Commending the governors televised updates, the Academy added they “worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure."
Mr Cuomo said on Friday that the Emmys recognition is “flattering” and that “it’s flattering for the people of [New York]”. He added that the reporters at the press conference “helped hone my presentation skills and acting skills”.
Bruce Paisner, president and CEO of the International Academy, said in a statement announcing the decision: “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”.
New York City became one of the global epicentres of the virus during the pandemic with more than 580,000 people testing positive in the state and 34,000 so far dead as a result of coronavirus.
Throughout the peak, Mr Cuomo conducted 111 consecutive media briefings to inform the public about the outbreak with his approval ratings rising to 77 per cent – the highest in his nearly 10 years as governor.
The Academy highlighted that the governor drew a total of 59 million viewers before the briefings ended on 19 June.
The Founders Award is presented to an individual or organisation who "crosses cultural boundaries to touch our common humanity," with prior recipients including Vice President Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, and Steven Spielberg.
However, Cuomo has encountered criticism about his handling of the pandemic, particularly in the states order in March that all care homes accept patients who had or were suspected to have coronavirus. A quarter (6,600) of all deaths in the city have since occurred in nursing homes.
Though Cuomo changed the order in May, 6,000 Covid-positive patients had already been admitted.
Some took to Twitter to denounce the Emmy’s acknowledgement, including some Democrats who say the recognition ignores problems the state experienced during the health crisis.
Max Berger, a Democratic consultant and organiser, wrote on Twitter that the award “makes sense because Cuomo isn’t actually a competent, empathetic Governor – he just plays one on TV.”
Meanwhile, there are less hospitalisations currently in New York than during the pandemic’s peak but cases across the US are beginning to surge ahead of the holiday season.
Earlier this week, Cuomo ordered schools in New York City to close after the latest data showed a three per cent positivity rate. This leaves an estimated 60,000 children in the schooling system without access to devices to engage in remote learning.