News and Analysis

Chris Cuomo Was Offered Early Access To COVID-19 Treatment
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 867 -- Pictured: (l-r) CNN's Chris Cuomo during an interview with host Seth Meyers on August 1, 2019
Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

As Chris Cuomo publicized his suffering from COVID-19 in 2020, he received an offer from a New York City doctor to infuse the then-CNN host with the human blood plasma of someone who had recovered from the virus, newly released emails reveal.

“Today Dr. Chris Hillyer, CEO of the New York Blood Center, asked that I reach out to you and offer to deliver convalescent plasma to Chris Cuomo,” wrote Mary Ann Tighe on April 17, 2020. “Should the Cuomo family elect to take Dr. Hillyer up on his offer, his cell number is [redacted].”

Tighe — who is a CEO of CBRE, which describes itself as “the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm” — addressed her email to Melissa DeRosa, an intimate aide to then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who forwarded the email to Chris.

Chris Cuomo replied to the offer of “convalescent plasma” by asking, “What is that?”

“Someone’s blood who already had COVID – experimental treatment…” clarified DeRosa.

“Sounds spooky,” Cuomo responded.

“[Y]es but, hey, far be it for me to hold back an offer of someone’s blood,” DeRosa joked.

“I dont [sic] want to try something that extreme when I Am [sic] not dying,” Cuomo said in his final email on the matter. “But thanks.”

Doctors believed the experimental plasma treatment, which came before the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, would help patients recover by providing them with the antibodies of people who already overcome the coronavirus. The treatment, which remains controversial, would be “virtually unobtainable by anyone unrelated to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” wrote Conor Skelding of the New York Post, which obtained 147 pages of emails tied to Chris Cuomo.

“It’s shocking if the Blood Center was offering convalescent therapy to the most powerful New Yorkers,” said New York City Council member Ben Dallos, a Democrat. “I certainly hope the Blood Center isn’t offering better treatment to the most powerful.”

The New York Blood Center told The Daily Wire in a statement that there was enough supply in April to meet hospital demand.

“In the spring of 2020, New York Blood Center became the first to collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma and New Yorkers turned out in droves for their neighbors. We were able to collect 10K donations throughout April and quickly had an adequate supply to meet demand at hospitals,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Sachais. “The outreach to Chris Cuomo was part of a larger effort to get the new treatment to sick patients and spread the word about the need for recovered patients to donate plasma.”

Just over a year after Hillyer made his offer to the governor’s brother, the New York City Council voted to allow his Blood Center to build a 230-foot-tall tower strongly opposed by local residents. The vote marked “the first time in at least a decade that city lawmakers backed a project over the wishes of the local lawmaker, Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhttan),” reported the Post.

“I wonder who else got this special therapy,” said Kallos.

Cuomo has previously been accused of accepting preferential treatment. Last year, federal agents opened an investigation into whether then-Gov. Cuomo gave his brother access to rapid COVID-19 tests that were unavailable to the general public.

The plasma offer came as Chris Cuomo told CNN viewers that he had quarantined himself in his basement following his March 2020 diagnosis; he later posted a video of himself dramatically emerging from his lair. But Cuomo got caught outside his home by a local man taking a bike ride on Easter Sunday; Cuomo later berated the man as a “jacka** loser fat-tire biker” on his now-defunct SiriusXM Radio show.

At the time of the alleged offer, Cuomo hosted CNN’s most widely watched program, “Cuomo Prime Time.”

“CNN declined to comment on the emails,” wrote Skelding. “Hillyer, who made $1.8 million in 2019, didn’t return a request for comment.”

Hillyer’s online biography describes him as the “author of over 175 articles pertaining to transfusion, human immunodeficiency virus, and herpes viruses.”

This article has been updated to include comment from the New York Blood Center. 

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