Cristina Cuomo was both “surprised and not surprised” when she developed COVID-19 symptoms 18 days after her husband, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, noticed his own. The family had been careful once he got sick, moving Chris into the basement, where Cristina would drop off his food while wearing gloves and come back later to retrieve and diligently clean his dishes. But their house has an open floor plan, and with no door blocking off the basement — only a staircase — Cristina started feeling intense sinus pressure in mid-April, before she tested positive.
She says she knows she is “lucky,” having had a far more mild case of COVID-19 than her husband and thousands of Americans. Now, 17 days after her symptoms began, Cristina is feeling “so much better,” as are Chris and their 14-year-old son Mario, who also contracted the virus, she tells PEOPLE exclusively. Their two daughters, Bella and Carolina, have not shown any symptoms.
“I have to say, the fear I had going into it was far greater than the fear I had while I was in it,” she says. “I think there’s so much anxiety right now around this virus, and part of it is the fear of knowing there’s no vaccine, and there’s no proven cure or treatments.”
Cristina says that “fear” is why she wanted to share the foods and homeopathic treatments she found useful in a blog post on The Purist, the online magazine she founded in 2017.
“I think anecdotal evidence is really important right now — what are you feeling, how’s it going for you? — so people get a better understanding of what to expect,” she says.
But the post received backlash for the methods she described, including a Clorox bath (which she later updated to clarify that it involved ¼ of a cup of Clorox, not a tub full of it), pricey herbal medicines and a $300 vitamin C drip. After the criticism, Cristina amended the post to say she is “aware that what I am about to talk about are remedies for people who are already in a privileged situation — we have a roof over our head, enough food to eat and clean drinking water, and not everyone has that.”
Cristina says, though, that she understands the backlash. “There’s a huge opposition against holistic medicine, I get that,” she says. Many of these practices do not have backing from peer-reviewed scientific studies and are not used by Western medical doctors. Cristina updated her post to say, “None of these natural remedies below should be taken without consulting a doctor or naturopath." But in her view, she says, “If there’s a potential for something to work, why not investigate it?"
“Who knows if it worked or what it did, but I know that in nine days, I got most of that virus out of my system,” she says. “This being a virus with no vaccination and no cure, my resolution was to learn as much as I can, go to my same doctor Linda Lancaster and follow her protocol, her prescription. And no way am I saying please try this. It's just the path that I took and I'm sharing it because there isn't a lot of anecdotal evidence.”
The criticism hasn’t deterred Cristina. She plans to continue sharing her experience and, now that she’s feeling better, she’s hosting free Instagram Lives with various practitioners and mental health experts she’s selected, from yoga instructors to a leading suicide prevention psychologist.
“To see them speaking in front of you on your phone and you can ask them a question and they can answer it directly is a whole different ball game,” she says. “It gives people access.”
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