When I wrote about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stated desire to attend a Buffalo Bills playoff game despite having repeatedly locked down the state’s residents due to the pandemic earlier this week, I thought I was being mostly tongue in cheek when I asked if he would really have the nerve to try to attend. After all of the other high-profile instances of hypocrisy we’ve seen from other elected officials breaking their own rules and going to everything from wine tastings to the hairstylist, nobody could really be that tone-deaf, right? Well, apparently I have once again overestimated our elected officials. It sounds like the Godfather of New York wasn’t kidding around. He immediately began setting up meetings to see if the Bills’ stadium could be set up to accommodate at least a limited number of fans to attend the big game. And you can bet that he would be one of them if he can manage it. (Buffalo News)
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was taken by surprise by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that the state is studying a way to allow up to 6,700 fans into next month’s Buffalo Bills home playoff game through a combination of pre-game Covid-19 testing and postgame contact tracing.
But if the state can pull together a plan to let fans back into the stadium by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, Poloncarz said, the county will scramble its work force to help make it happen.
“It’s getting real close,” Poloncarz told The Buffalo News. “We have to have a decision by midweek next week just so we know what we have to do for staffing and security purposes, and working with the other agencies we work with, state and federal, to ensure that it’s a safe and secure environment for our fans.”
Just to be clear, large swaths of New York State (including Buffalo) are still under various levels of lockdown orders. Case numbers continue to surge in some areas. Indoor dining and larger public gatherings are still forbidden until at least January 1st. But somehow… miraculously… only a few days later it’s going to be safe to allow nearly ten thousand people to travel to Buffalo and go into a stadium to watch a football game? And it just so happens to be a game that the Governor himself very much wants to attend?
To add even more nonsense to this puzzle, the “plan” currently under discussion would include provisions to minimize the risk of turning this into a superspreader event. One element of that strategy is to provide for instant COVID testing of everyone who arrives at the stadium, with nobody who tests positive being allowed inside. I suppose that makes sense, but who is going to provide ten thousand test kits? County Executive Mark Poloncarz immediately stated that he did not support making the county provide the test kits even if they had enough to do so. Cuomo apparently responded by saying the state would take care of it. But we’re still seeing test kit shortages in various parts of the state. Is shipping ten thousand of them off to a football game the best use of our resources?
Cuomo’s own State Health Commissioner seemed somewhat appalled. Dr. Howard Zucker conceded that they might be able to put safety precautions in place for the inside of the stadium, but there would be no way to do that for all of the tailgate parties and other festivities that always unfold in the parking lots prior to the game. It’s a fair point.
And we’re really going to do all of this just so the Governor who has been lockdown-crazy all year can go watch a football game? Welcome to New York. Come for the hypocrisy, stay for the crazy.