Covid-19 has killed over 370,000 Americans, resulting in incalculable grief for families and medical staff, as well as journalists covering the carnage daily. It’s a grief that overtook CNN correspondent Sara Sidner during a live broadcast Tuesday morning, leaving her tearful as she relayed the tragedy of it all.
Sidner was reporting on a Southern California family who had to hold a funeral for their mother in a parking lot after she died of covid-19. The woman’s husband died of the virus only 11 days prior.
The report explored the ways in which covid-19 is particularly devastating to people of color in the United States, who are more likely to be essential workers and more likely to live in multi-generational homes, two factors which increase the likelihood of transmission. Covid-19 risk factors like diabetes and asthma are also disproportionately prevalent among Black and Latinx Americans.
“This is the tenth hospital that I have been in,” Sidner said, sobbing as she referred to Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital in Los Angeles, a site at the center of the covid-19's racial gap. “And to see the way that these families have to live after this, and the heartache that goes so far and so wide... it’s really hard to take.”
She apologized profusely for breaking from the stoicism demanded of broadcast journalists. New Day’s Alisyn Camerota lent empathetic commentary from the CNN studios, calling covid-19 and its aftermath a “collective trauma.”
The crumbling of the facade was an important kind of journalism in and of itself, rendering the mourning and invisible butchery of the virus into an almost tangible torment. It’s one thing for viewers to see the rising death toll on CNN’s tracker day in and day out. It’s another to see someone responsible for delivering such information grow overwhelmed by the scale of its agony. While politicians and medical analysts keep a straight face, Sidner kept it real.
“These families should not be going through this,” Sidner continued. “No family should be going through this. So please, listen to what this family is saying: Don’t let this be you. Do whatever you can to keep this from killing your family members, and your neighbors, and your friends, and your teachers, and doctors, and firefighters... all of these people are here to help you, but you have to do your part.”