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CNN goes beyond the statistics in telling the human, personal, heartbreaking stories of COVID | COMMENTARY

CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez (left) reporting on COVID-19 inside a Brooklyn Hospital in March of 2020. - Original Credit: Courtesy of CNN
CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez (left) reporting on COVID-19 inside a Brooklyn Hospital in March of 2020. - Original Credit: Courtesy of CNN (HANDOUT)

CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez has been on the COVID story as long as anyone in TV news. And no cable correspondent does it better.

Last March, he and his team took us to ground zero in an intensive care unit filled to overflowing with COVID patients at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn. I praised that report because it was the first to show viewers the grim reality of what was happening behind close doors in maxed-out intensive care units. Previously, we only had nurses, doctors or other medical workers telling us in interviews about the suffering and pain. The nation needed to see the horror of what this virus could do up close and personal, and Mr. Marquez gave us that.

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Mr. Marquez is back with another powerful report on the virus, “The Human Cost of COVID,” airing at 9 p.m. Saturday on CNN. In it, he and his team bring us stories told in deeply personal terms of several people who contracted the virus last year and either died or are now coping with the lingering after-effects. None of it is pretty. Much of it is heartbreaking. What makes it powerful and engaging is the way Mr. Marquez establishes a rapport with members of families affected by COVID and then let’s them have the space to tell their stories mostly in their own words of how the virus affected them and their families.

One of the most powerful stories is the of Hubert Andrew Marsh Sr. as told by his son, Hubert Andrew Marsh Jr. The younger Mr. Marsh, a musician and married father of one, gave up his life in New Jersey to return to his hometown of Dalton, Georgia, to care for his semi-paralyzed mother after his father got sick. He says today that he can’t think about where he will be a year from now, he is just trying to fill the void one day at a time left by his father when he died.

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The report focuses on Dalton, which bills itself as the carpet capital of the world. It has a large Hispanic population, and many of its residents work in the industry in close quarters. Mr. Marquez finds two families from that demographic which have been hit very hard by the disease.

As you see and hear these stories of suffering and loss, you might wonder why anyone would not try to get the vaccine or not wear a mask. Mr. Marquez addresses that, too, with some reporting on the politics of Dalton, a part of Georgia called Trump Country. Check out the billboard early in the program that says: “Every Tongue Will Confess Jesus Is Lord. Even The Democrats.”

David Zurawik is The Baltimore Sun’s media critic. Email: david.zurawik@baltsun.com; Twitter: @davidzurawik.

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