Governor Cuomo says Bills have proposed 6,700 fans in the stadium for playoffs

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB)–Governor Cuomo says the Bills have proposed 6,700 fans in the stadium for playoffs.

The State Department of Health is taking a look at the model where fans would be tested before they go into the stadium.

During Wednesday’s press conference, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says fans would have to have proof of a negative test prior to entering.

The state will work with the Bills and do contact tracing afterward. Zucker calls it a “demonstration project.”

State Budget Director Robert Mujica says the team would control ingress and egress of Bills Stadium. Fans without masks would be thrown out.

The governor clarified that the plan is still “in development.”

News 4 has received a statement from the Bills regarding the proposal to the governor. The team says:

We are continuing to work with the governor’s office regarding the details of a plan to possibly host a limited amount of spectators at our home playoff game. Nothing has been finalized at this point.”

Buffalo Bills

We’ve also learned the Department of Health sent two senior level staffers to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on October 18. The DOH employees were observing stadium plans.

Attendance that day for a Browns/Steelers game was 5,260.

News 4 is now hearing from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on the “demonstration project.”

He says a decision to allow fans into the stadium must be made no later than the middle of next week in order to properly prepare for a game in two weeks.

According to the county executive, Erie County does not have the capacity to do rapid testing on 6,700 individuals in either a pre-game or prior day setting.

“My administration and the Erie County Health Department have not been a part of any discussions regarding the ‘demonstration project’ announced by Governor Cuomo to allow 6,700 fans into Bills Stadium to see a football game and we have no information to add on the proposal,” Poloncarz said.

Additionally, Poloncarz tells us no such proposal was brought up to him, and his recent conversations with the Bills indicated to him that while the team submitted numerous plans to return fans, they were unsure whether any of the plans were actively considered by the state.

You can read the county executive’s full statement below:

My administration and the Erie County Health Department have not been a part of any discussions regarding the ‘demonstration project’ announced by Governor Cuomo to allow 6,700 fans into Bills Stadium to see a football game and we have no information to add on the proposal. Despite being on several calls with NYS officials for a variety of matters related to the COVID-19 Pandemic over the past few days, no such proposal was brought up and additionally, my recent conversations with staff from the Buffalo Bills indicated to me that while the Bills submitted numerous plans to return fans to the stadium in past months they were unsure whether any of the plans were being actively considered by the state.

Furthermore, a decision to allow fans into the stadium must be made no later than the middle of next week in order to properly prepare for a game in two weeks, including the sale and distribution of tickets to fans and the activation of appropriate support staff for such an event. Therefore, a decision must be made by the middle of next week to properly prepare for such a game.

Finally, it must be noted Erie County does not have the capacity to do rapid testing on 6,700 individuals in either a pre-game or prior day setting – the county performs on average 1,450 COVID-19 tests per week for all tests (Abbot ID Now Rapid Tests, Abbot Binax Now Rapid Tests, and traditional PCR Tests) – and that NYS or the Buffalo Bills organization would have to conduct both these tests and the related contact tracing. While we will work with NYS if needed on this proposal, Erie County has not been a part of its formulation and we have no details on how or if it will occur.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

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