As We Come Out Of Lockdown, The Terrifying Stories of Nick Cordero and Kate Garraway’s Husband Derek Draper Are More Important Than Ever

Why are we still googling if coronavirus victims have 'underlying health conditions' to make ourselves feel better?

Kate Garraway

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

This week, the most-read story in many parts of the world, is the death of Broadway star, Nick Cordero from coronavirus complications. Here on UK shores, many have today continued to follow the plight of Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper, who has been in an induced coma since March, as she today started work again on Good Morning Britain.

What says even more about our ability to hide terrible things from ourselves is that, one of the most searched for terms around both men’s names is whether they had an underlying health condition.

Addressing whether Derek had any health issues on GMB this morning, Kate said: 'He was a little bit overweight, I am a little bit of a feeder… [but he had] zero underlying conditions. He’s young, comparatively to the people who’ve been acutely affected, he’s 52. So… there is no explanation.'

It’s a stark and important shift change to hear about the death and destruction coronavirus can wreak, from the stories that obsessed the media over the weekend – the reopening of pubs and hair salons. That is, of course, the debate over the behaviours of those that hit the pubs (less so the hairdressers tbf) and whether profit was being put before public health by opening parts of the leisure industry before others. Again, on social media the debate raged – were you a ‘First pint tastes so good’ poster on Instagram? Or a ‘There’s still a pandemic on, you know’ indignant tweeter?

It’s a side point, but personally, I don’t think that dissing others for not being good citizens, makes you a good one. You should probably aim your scorn a bit higher – perhaps in the direction of Westminster? Though the pictures that have been shared of Soho and pubs across the country showed people were probably sat too close together, and will send shivers down the spines of epidemiologists, for the most part, the people in those pictures weren’t doing anything illegal. They were answering the government’s siren call, if anything. I know we all have personal responsibility, but we also all have ingrained respect for and belief in authority and I think that for many (even us cynical types), the invitation to do something, indicates an allowance and almost a guarantee that in some way, it must be safe.

Sadly, the very public cases of Derek Draper and Nick Cordero’s battle with coronavirus are a reminder that there is no guarantee of safety when it comes to coronavirus.

His doctor said: 'He’s as sick as anyone I’ve ever seen in 35 years in medicine.'

It’s important to say I don’t think we should be using or co-opting people’s personal tragedies as a ‘life lesson’ in a trite way. This isn’t a reminder to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE because THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. Yes, what has happened to these two men is shocking – and a shock has the power to change behaviour. But it’s more a comment on the fact that sometimes, especially in this country, as much as Twitter tries, time and time again, it can feel like we’re being urged to look the wrong way. And falling for it.

Nick Cordero was a Tony-nominated actor who was 41 when he died, leaving his wife and a one-year-old son. Tributes have poured in from across the acting community since his death. He went to hospital on March 30, before suffering mini-strokes, blood clots, sepsis infections a tracheostomy and a temporary pacemaker implant. He’d been on a ventilator, unconscious and had his right leg amputated. A double lung transplant was being explored. His wife, Amanda Kloots had been sending him daily videos of her and their son, Elvis.

The husband of presenter Kate Garraway, Derek Draper, was placed in an induced coma in March, and many have been following the pure hell Kate has been going through via interviews with her Good Morning Britain co-stars. She's revealed he sometimes opens his eyes and Kate believes he can hear her when they call via FaceTime. The family – they have two children - of course, cannot visit him. Last month she said coronavirus had ‘wreaked extraordinary damage to his body. It's affected him from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.’

Today, she underlined the seriousness of covid, saying: 'It is a very desperate situation, it’s very difficult. Of course, there’s fantastic hope that he’s still alive. The doctors do keep saying it is a miracle he’s still alive. [A doctor who has been treating him] said, "He’s as sick as anyone I’ve ever seen in 35 years in medicine, never mind Covid". So six times they said he’s not going to make it. He’s been very, very sick. The problem is, is that it’s a new disease which nobody knows, so there’s no data.

For both men, when you look at the google trends that show what people search when they look for their names, you’ll see that for Nick it’s ‘Underlying conditions’ and for Derek, it’s ‘Underlying Health Issues’.

It’s clear to see what we’re doing – and it’s understandable. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, a pandemic that kills. Dead. Gone. That's not an attempt to trigger health anxities, or scaremonger. This is just a basic fact that I don’t think enough is said about that these days. We need to find reasons that a) this happened and b) this won’t happen to us. The reality is, though, that it might. And it might happen to someone you know. It might happen to someone that you love, loves. We don't know enough to rule out anything.

In many ways, the last three months have left many of us with unforgettable scars and memories. But it’s also easy to forget how you first felt when you hid away at home, urging bosses to let you work remotely and using hand sanitiser until it stung. This is still the same disease we’re battling. Looking at pictures of pubs this Saturday felt a bit gaslighty of our past – to coin an internetism This you Britain?

Our ability to ‘go back to normal’ is of course aided by the loss of the daily government press conference, and its daily death tolls. So, ICYMI (and you will have missed it), there have, as of today, been more than 44,000 coronavirus deaths. 15 people died yesterday. Countries around the world are closing down with second spikes. Those figures are undoubtedly better, but better because of all the hard work we've done. So, no matter how you decide to proceed, it's perhaps important to remember there are still things you should do to stay safe - hand-washing, not touching your face, standing at least 1m apart.

From the beginning of coronavirus, the government did us a disservice when they told us this was a disease that attacked the old and ill. Even now, when weight and certain ethnic minorities is added to that list, it still gives us a bargaining game to play with ourselves – I’m fat, but young and white… I’m old, but I look after myself… It’s bad enough that – apart from when we play the lottery – we’re hardwired to believe that it won’t happen to us.

But the fact is, it might. And while there are other problems to be had from sitting, terrified at home, alone – personally, mentally, and economically - there is room, amongst the many, many headlines we read a day, to acknowledge that coronavirus is, was and always has been, possibly deadly.

READ MORE: What It's Like To Navigate Coronavirus When You Suffer From Health Anxiety

READ MORE: What It's Really Like To Go Back To A Hair Salon On Super Saturday

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