The testy exchange happened on Wednesday, with Mr Cuomo grilling Tony Roman, the owner of Basilico's Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach, California, over why he's requiring people to provide proof they are unvaccinated.
Mr Roman refused to answer questions about himself and his family without Mr Cuomo offering up the same information. Mr Cuomo asked Mr Roman if he and his family were vaccinated. The anchor revealed without hesitation that he and his family had been vaccinated, prompting Mr Roman to reveal the opposite for himself and his family.
The restaurant owner also said the sign was a way to telling “stupid” people – in his mind, those who received vaccines – to stay out of his restaurant.
“It's an IQ test,” Mr Roman. “Like I say to people when they ask me, if they're so blinded with their rage and their hate, I tell them, you know what, if you don't understand it, maybe we should put up a sign that says you're too stupid to come into the restaurant.”
Mr Roman stayed with that tack throughout the interview, telling Mr Cuomo – who was clearly struggling to understand the man's rambling and disconnected logic – that he was “failing the IQ test”.
The restaurant owner said that his anti-vaccination policy was not meant to be an anti-vaccine statement, but a measure of intelligence.
When Mr Cuomo asked why he was not willing to take the vaccine to protect himself and others around him, Mr Roman began a “slippery-slope” argument, suggesting the next step will be the government locking everyone in their homes “in moon suits”. He asked “when will it end” to which Mr Cuomo replied “it ends with you get the vaccine so that this virus doesn't keep replicating”.
Throughout the interview, Mr Roman lobbed thinly veiled jabs at Mr Cuomo, suggesting he was stupid. Just before Mr Cuomo signed off, he wished Mr Roman and his business well, to which Mr Roman replied “I made my case, you didn't have much to say”.
“I mean honestly, you sound like an idiot, so there's not much to say,” Mr Cuomo shot back. “But Tony, good luck with it. See ya.”
While the closing moments of the interview may have been funny, the reality of the coronavirus situation in the US is not; cases caused by the Delta variant of the virus are causing spikes in infections across the country.
While the latest outbreak is virtually completely a pandemic of the unvaccinated, the CDC has recommended that fully vaccinated people in areas with high transmission rates resume face mask use while indoors until more people are vaccinated.
While the latest research suggests it's rare for a vaccinated person to spread the virus, it is possible. US Centres for Disease Director Dr Rochelle Walensky confirmed that the vast majority of transmission is from unvaccinated people to other unvaccinated people.
Those who have taken the shot are significantly less likely to become infected with even the highly contagious Delta variant, and also far less likely to experience severe symptoms or be hospitalised if infected. Vaccinate manufacturer Pfizer – which has been suggesting a vaccine booster shot since the start of the summer – released data suggesting a third shot would further strengthen people's defences against the Delta variant.
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