Cuomo unveiled the plan on Wednesday at his daily briefing
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to let 6,700 football fans attend the Buffalo Bills play-off next month that he is desperate to go to as a COVID ‘experiment’ with rapid testing on entry, masks and contact tracing afterwards but he still won’t allow restaurants in New York City to open.
Cuomo unveiled the plan on Wednesday at his daily briefing, two days after telling reporters on a call that he wanted to go to the play-off.
The plan has not yet final – he said health officials were still reviewing it.
He called the plan to let fans attend a ‘demonstration’ and boasted, along with his health experts, that it would be the first of its kind in the nation.
It comes as COVID cases around America are spiking, cities like L.A. are seeing their hospital systems collapse and daily deaths in the state of New York rise to their highest since May with 164 deaths on Tuesday.
There were 200 new COVID hospitalizations yesterday and now more than 6,700 are in the hospital with the virus across the state.
Western New York – the region where the Bills stadium is – has a test positivity rate of 7.3 percent.
By comparison, New York City’s test positivity rate is 4.9 percent and Manhattan, where most bars and restaurants are and where thousands have gone out of business, is even lower at 2.65 percent.
But Cuomo is refusing to reopen indoor dining, even at a 25 percent capacity, because he says the rate of transmission is so high and the population of New York City makes it more susceptible.
He previously appointed Kim Pegula, who owns the Bills with her husband, to the state’s reopening advisory.
The empty Bills Stadium ten days ago before a game. It has the capacity for 71,000 fans
Western New York is where the Bills stadium is. It has one of the higher COVID test positivity rates in the state
The hospitalization rate among COVID patients is also higher in Western NY than it is in other regions
Cuomo is an enthusiastic Bills fan. He told reporters on a call earlier this week that he wanted to attend the game next month. He gave details of the plan to let 6,700 fans go too afterwards
His office will not say what the transmission rate is, or why allowing 6,700 people in a stadium at one time in a region where the virus is more prevalent, would be safer than letting 25 percent or 50 percent of a restaurant’s full capacity in a space at one time.
His office did not respond to inquiries on Tuesday.
‘Can you reopen venues using rapid testing? That’s the question the Department of Health has been analyzing – we’re looking to test a hypothesis.
‘The NFL currently does games without testing the buffalo bills are going to have a play-off game. Could we allow fans to the game with testing then contact trace after the game?
‘6,700 fans. Test the fans before they go in. If they’re negative, they go in, and then contact trace afterwards to see what the effect was,’ he said.
He has never commented on whether or not restaurants would be able to welcome back diners if they offered rapid tests.
Cuomo said earlier this week that he wants to attend a Bills game himself.
On a call with reporters, he gushed: ‘I want to attend a Bills game. I’ve attended them in the past — it was a great game (Saturday,) by the way — that was just unbelievable.
NYC restaurants are not allowed to offer any kind of indoor dining and they face strict outdoor dining rules. Anyone found breaching the rules is fined
The NYC restaurant protest in Times Square on December 15. As many as 12,000 of NYC’s 24,000 bars and restaurants are expected to close permanently
‘I mean really incredible. You almost sense the energy and the optimism and the confidence, the way they played (Saturday,) and Josh Allen was just unbelievable.’
Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, said at Wednesday’s briefing that the plan for the game was the first of its kind.
‘It’s a public health model. It’s never been done before,’ he said.
At the same press conference, he slammed the federal government for not banning flights from the UK or mandating tests for people flying into the US to look for a mutant strain of COVID-19 that is 70 times more infectious.
He said previously he believes it is ‘already here’ and that it is ‘gross negligence’ more is not being done.
He has been slammed by restaurant owners who say they’ve been left no choice but to close due to the extended closures.
Many have accused him of ‘extorting’ the federal government by closing restaurants then asking for a large bail-out on their behalf.
Restaurant owners are now threatening to never serve the pair again.
On Tuesday, one told Fox News: ‘These people need to survive and they spend thousands of dollars doing what they need to do. They’re just not going to make it.
‘And it’s not about politics at this point – whether you’re left or right or conservative or Democrat.
‘It’s economic Darwinism at this point. It’s survival of the fittest,’ Michael Quinn, whose family runs the famous Feltman hot dogs brand in Coney Island.