Governor Cuomo Will Allow 6,700 Fans Watch The Buffalo Bills Playoff Game

"Essential" simply means "important" to Governor Cuomo.

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We are entering the eleventh month of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this span, Governor Cuomo has exercised absolute authority over every aspect of life in New York. We should stop pretending he is motivated by #science. Cuomo, like every politician, acts like a politician. Racial justice marches are essential. But 11 Jews praying in a synagogue that fits 1,000 people is forbidden. Cuomo does whatever he thinks he can get away with.

Now, for the first time in a quarter century, the Buffalo Bills have made the NFL playoffs. And, Governor Cuomo will permit nearly 7,000 fans watch the game:

The plan allows for 6,772 fans, with attendees needing to register a negative COVID-19 test before being granted entrance. The team will work with the state's Department of Health to conduct contact tracing afterward.

Fans will be socially distanced throughout the stadium, with masks required at all times. Fans who fail to comply will be ejected.

As we know all too well, tests are not always accurate. And people may contract the virus after taking the test. If the state's goal was to keep transmission as close to zero as possible, no one would consider this feat. But that isn't the state's sole goal. "Essential" simply means "important" to Governor Cuomo. And Cuomo was not willing to accept the wrath of football fans in upstate New York. Orthodox Jews–who tend to vote Republican–are simply not that important.

Cuomo would be wise not to appeal the recent Agudath Israel decision to the Supreme Court. His Solicitor General will be asked about the Bills game.

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  1. As long as they don’t have a pregame prayer, I don’t see a problem.

    1. Why only pre-game? “Please, God, let him make that touchdown!” also qualifies. Better not pray!

      Old Jewish joke. Many synagogues used to require attendees to purchase a seat for the High Holidays, Rosh ha Shana and Yom Kippur. One Rosh ha Shana, a kid comes up to the synagogue to tell gives his father a message from his mother. As he enters, the usher stops him and asks, “Where’s your reservation?”

      “Sorry sir, I don’t have one.”

      “Too bad. No ticket, you are not going in.”

      “Please, sir. I just have to give my father a message for my mother. Please just let me in. Please!”

      “Okay, I’ll do this for you just this once. But just remember, you can go in, but NO PRAYING.”

      Maybe Cuomo can set up some ushers to do the same thing.

      1. Whining, disaffected, superstitious, grievance-consumed clingers are among my favorite right-wing culture war casualties.

        1. Look, the cuckoo clock just sounded. Must be the hour.

        2. Whining, disaffected, superstitious, grievance-consumed power grab apologists are among my favorite long-term freedom war casualties.

  2. “We should stop pretending he is motivated by #science.”

    You shouldn’t have been pretending that in the first place.

    ” If the state’s goal was to keep transmission as close to zero as possible, no one would consider this feat. But that isn’t the state’s sole goal.”

    Far from not being the state’s sole goal, just because the government claims that’s it’s goal doesn’t mean you should accept the state at it’s word that that is even part of their real goals.

    1. Politicans lie. Dog bites man.

  3. Aren’t there laws against inflicting punishments like that on prisoners?

    1. Indeed … as someone pointed out to me: if you instituted modern COVID restrictions in a prison, you’d be sued.

      1. I think he was referring to the Bills game.

  4. Prof. Blackman has made his point. And made his point, and made his point. Isn’t it time for him to stop using the valuable and critical space on this Forum for a repetitious and false claim that somehow, the Governor of New York, a state where the Jewish population is large and the Jewish vote is critical, is anti-semetic or anti-religous or just wants to stop Jews and Catholics (of which he is one) from exercising their religious rights. Isn’t there something more important to talk about after exhausting this topic and beating it to death? Like, I don’t know, maybe the effort of Republicans to overturn a lawful and un-corrupted election through the court system.

    As for the Bills, I have been to the stadium many times, and I imagine Prof. Blackman has never been. It seat more than 60,00. Having 6,700 fans in their will permit huge social distances. Of course religious services pack people a few feet apart who exhale the virum constantly for an hour or more at a time. How many people have already gotten sick and how many have died after catching the virus at a religious function. Don’t know the exact answer but it is more than will ever get sick or die from a Bills game.

    Finally, as a former resident of Buffalo I can testify to the fact that the Bills, and not any other organization is the true religion of Western New York. Not allowing Bills fans for a playoff would be anti-religious and if Prof. Blackman wishes to make that argument I would fully support him.

    1. “Prof. Blackman has made his point. And made his point, and made his point.”

      No. No, there isn’t anything more important than protecting our civil rights. Our rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This needs to be repeated. Again. and Again. And AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.

      Until it gets through your extremely thick skull that NO, it’s not OK to discriminate against people because they are black. No, it’s not OK to discriminate against people because they are women. And No, it’s not OK to discriminate against religions and those with religious beliefs.

      And until it gets through your extremely thick skull, it apparently does need to be repeated, over and over and over again. Get it?

      1. Is it okay to discriminate against people who want to infect me with a terrible, sometimes fatal disease? Cause I don’t think that’s very religious of them.

        Wait a minute, I get it, you are a Patriots fan and are just worked up over the Monday night game.

        1. You are just stupid, and so self-centered that the entire universe revolves around you. As long as you get to tell everyone else what to do, and never have to do what anyone else says, your life is just perfect and everybody else can go get fucked.

          You couldn’t see past the end of your nose with the Hubble telescope.

          1. You get to whimper about it as much as you wish, but you will comply.

          2. The people trying to argue we should act like there is no virus are the self-centered ones.

            Well, that and Blackmans’ transparent grasping by having some Google Alert or something to give him reasons to gin up the latest disingenuous attack on Cuomo off of this blog. That’s also pretty self-centered.

            1. The people trying to argue we should act like there is no virus are the self-centered ones.

              Welcome to the (first) Sarc extreme caricature of the morning.

              How about “act like there is, and will be for time immemorial, another virus in our midst, just like we’ve had scores of other viruses in our midst since time immemorial”?

              That wouldn’t be nearly as fun to lampoon, I suppose.

              1. The virus will not be a virgin soil pandemic forever. Or even, it looks like, for much longer. You know that, so quit strawmanning.

                1. Oh, a “virgin soil pandemic”? That sounds like one of those “first ever” sports stats: “first triple double… on a Tuesday… on an odd-numbered day of the month… during a full moon…” Very cute.

                  It’s routinely mutating, like viruses do. And that means the supposed silver-bullet vaccines dangled in front of our faces to limp us through Lockdown Year will not be as effective next year. And not enough people are going to volunteer to be first-round guinea pigs of that class of vaccines to even make the original strain die out.

                  And yet, on the bright side, that frequent mutation means that the fatality rate will (continue to) plummet, just as it has with the other influenza and coronaviruses in our midst.

                  This is all immensely unsurprising and predictable. The level of sand required for your head to pretend this thing is going to be scrubbed off the face of the earth within our lifetimes, much less in the next year or two — and that such an extreme measure is the only path forward back to a rationally-functioning society — is getting deeper and deeper.

                  1. You’re getting a lot of things wrong as you’re coming in hot calling me ignorant.

                    Research these vaccines are being developed – it’s fascinating stuff.
                    The vaccines have focused on the protein that makes it so virulent. If it mutates in a way that ends that immunity, it will also end a lot of what makes it so dangerous.

                    Mutation does not really make a virus less deadly…the flu continues to be pretty badass as deaths per year go.

                    1. calling me ignorant

                      Not in the least. Head in the sand is exactly the opposite of ignorant. I give you full credit of understanding this stuff enough to know I’m right — you’re either in denial or just posturing.

                      If it mutates in a way that ends that immunity, it will also end a lot of what makes it so dangerous.

                      So you’re (through gritted teeth) ultimately agreeing with me that it’s not going away. Making your original statement deceptive at best.

                      Mutation does not really make a virus less deadly

                      The word “really” is doing a lot of work in that sentence. Presumably why you included it — so you wouldn’t be laughed off the stage quite as hard. See, e.g., history.

                    2. I give you full credit of understanding this stuff enough to know I’m right — you’re either in denial or just posturing.

                      Well fuck you and your telepathy, then.

                      Your thesis is not that the virus will never go away, but rather that any policies right now to reduce the effects of the virus are wrongheaded because it will never go away. You’ve had that thesis pretty much blown up.

                      Explain how mutation makes a virus less deadly, then. I gave the example of the flu. Lots of mutations, not less deadly.

                    3. Well fuck you and your telepathy, then.

                      Your thesis is not [what your said], but [something else].

                      The irony is strong with this one.

                      Explain how mutation makes a virus less deadly, then. I gave the example of the flu. Lots of mutations, not less deadly.

                      Provide backup for “not less deadly” or buzz off. If you were right, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

                    4. Brian, here is your original quote: “[The people trying to argue we should act like there is no virus are more like] act like there is, and will be for time immemorial, another virus in our midst, just like we’ve had scores of other viruses in our midst since time immemorial”

                      This sure does look like ‘any policies right now to reduce the effects of the virus are wrongheaded because it will never go away.’

                      Provide backup for “not less deadly” or buzz off
                      You are saying the flu is less deadly now than it was in the past?

                    5. There’s not this thing called “the flu.” Stop playing games. (And Happy New Year!)

            2. The people trying to argue we should act like there is no virus

              Quickly, Robin…to the strawman!!!

        2. “Is it okay to discriminate against people who want to infect me with a terrible, sometimes fatal disease? Cause I don’t think that’s very religious of them.”

          And with that statement you demonstrate what a horrible bigot you really are.

          Why? You impugn a motive that they “want to infect” you onto an entire group of people.

          Let’s demonstrate this using alternate conditions. “Why are all those black people congregating to vote? They could spread disease! They could infect me! They WANT to infect me. They need to have their right to vote in person restricted, so they don’t spread disease, so they don’t INFECT me”.

          See how bigoted and racist that sounds? But you’ve done the same thing to Jews and Catholics and anyone else.

      2. Armchair, you and Josh mischaracterize. No one is discriminating against religions, or against people with religious beliefs. Certain religious practices menace society during a pandemic emergency. They are otherwise acceptable practices, which almost everyone supports, but not now. Not until the pandemic is over. That’s all there is to it.

        Of course, taking your commentary generally, I understand that your motivation for objecting may have more to do with disparaging government than it does with any straightforward assessment that religion is under attack. The religious claim seems strained, but the anti-government claim fits right in.

        1. But the Bills game is sacrosanct? All of the standard objections and defenses of going to church also apply to going to a football game, people together for a long period of time, singing/cheering, etc.

          1. All of the standard objections and defenses apply to both? How about:

            1. Bills Stadium is an outside arena, not an enclosed space with artificially circulated air.
            2. Bills Stadium has a capacity of 71,000, so the 6,700 permitted represents less than 10% of the stadium’s capacity.
            3. It’s a one-time event (for now at least) making it easier to take precautions like requiring negative tests to be permitted entrance. Religious services are recurring and don’t require any negative test results ahead of time.

            I’m not a New Yorker, couldn’t care less about Cuomo, and hate the Bills, but let’s not pretend it’s an apples-to-apples comparison.

    2. “Don’t know the exact answer but it is more than will ever get sick or die from a Bills game.”

      Most people get sick just watching the Bills!

      1. C’mon man.

        That used to be true, but get on board now. The Bills train is leaving the station.

        1. Ha ha. You probably think the Sabres are going to make the playoffs also.

    3. ‘ Of course religious services pack people a few feet apart who exhale the virum constantly for an hour or more at a time.’ 1. It’s still virus in this case 2. Only a biased and ignorant person would claim that people at religious services are exhaling the virus, presuming they are infected without knowledge of their health. 3. Prof Blackman can certainly figure out seating capacity without having been in the stadium. It’s fine if one chooses to be biased, when bias drives one’s mindset it becomes an issue.

    4. No, New York does not have a large Jewish population. The Jewish population is mostly concentrated in a few areas like Borough Park, Kiryas Joel, and the Five Towns in Nassau.

      Most of the population you describe as Jewish are actually people who subscribe to the religion of liberalism and think that going to shul twice a year, using a few Yiddish words, and voting for Democrats makes them Jews.

  5. “As we know all too well, tests are not always accurate. And people may contract the virus after taking the test. If the state’s goal was to keep transmission as close to zero as possible, no one would consider this feat. But that isn’t the state’s sole goal.”

    Nice strawman there.

  6. Meh I don’t care – I want the Bills to win a damn Superbowl.

    Cuomo is just being his usual self. It’s a full time job.

  7. The intelligent Democrat voter would stop voting for the Democrat politicians after suffering so much. However, Cuomo is getting high approval ratings. He will be re-elected.

  8. Cuomo would be wise not to appeal the recent Agudath Israel decision to the Supreme Court. His Solicitor General will be asked about the Bills game.

    Well now, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

  9. I mean, I would rather get covid and die than see a bills game, but its rather amusing to see people want to do both 🙂

  10. Blackman, get your facts correct. The Bills have made the playoffs the past two years. It is the first time in 25 they have one the division.

    But, yeah, it’s Cuomo being a craven politician. Just like Polancarz. And all Democrats when it comes to the Wuhan Flu.

  11. This seems to be an experiment. Cuomo said tonight that there will be extensive contact tracing of the attendees after the game and that if there is no major spread, this could be a model for reopening broadway. (And temples and churches).

    1. And who, do you think, is going to voluntarily give up their friends for state contact tracing, given the state’s wonderful track record?

  12. The term “unmitigated bullshit” comes to mind….

  13. Bills stadium = open air, outdoor.

    All your other (California) posts harp on how different the outdoors are than indoors

    I recognize that the comparator test may not be part of current legal doctrine. But it certainly is part of “science.” So before you sneer at chomp, perhaps acknowledge the point?

    1. Chomp=Cuomo. But I like the autocorrect

  14. So when does Cuomo go on trial for murder?

  15. HOW OFTEN do the Hassids want to pray in a room together?

    Epidemiology is a statistical thing. That means: a single exception to an isolation policy, like going to one football game, doesn’t matter much, but a series of exceptions is likely to make the problem much worse.

    (I find it difficult to believe that a co-blogger on Eugene Volokh’s blog doesn’t understand this. Why is Professor Blackman pretending to be a math-illiterate dumb-dumb?)

    Maybe Governor Cuomo should set a policy that the Hassids, and New Yorkers generally, will be allowed to get together for prayer, but only once every three months or so.

    1. This is ridiculous … no one is advocating keeping track of who has been around you for a long period of time as a means of measuring accumulated risk. What next, counting everyone’s calories because obesity is linked to severe outcomes?

      1. Obesity is not contagious. MY obesity (which is considerable) doesn’t worsen YOUR medical outcome.

        And I’m not saying anything about the morality of it right now. All I’m saying is that a once-or-twice-per-year exceptional event like the playoffs is different in kind from an every-week or several-times-every-week regular practice like Hassidic prayer (or Mass, or group prayer, or choir rehearsal, or Tae Kwon Do), and that for Josh Blackman to argue about it without taking the difference into account is either a lie of omission or proof of brain-dead idiocy. He’s a liar or a dumb-dumb, and I don’t think he’s a dumb-dumb.

        And who does he think he’s gonna fool? This kind of garbage might work on Fox News, which targets an audience of morons, but Volokh Conspiracy readers are expected to know a little math.

        1. Obesity is socially contagious – https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20070725/is-obesity-contagious – and risk that is spread out over a long period of time is independent.

          Once a year for 3 hours is much more dangerous than every day for 10 minutes because viral load is implicated in infection.

          1. What do you mean by this sentence (if anything): “Once a year for 3 hours is much more dangerous than every day for 10 minutes because viral load is implicated in infection.”

            What does this mean? And what does viral load have to do with it? What do you mean by “viral load” anyway? (I know what doctors mean by it, but what do YOU mean by it?)

            1. What does this mean? And what does viral load have to do with it? What do you mean by “viral load” anyway? (I know what doctors mean by it, but what do YOU mean by it?)

              It sounds like he means precisely the same thing that doctors mean.

              https://www.sccm.org/getattachment/05471bbb-2f6d-40f4-aa0e-c402c70c69b6/What-is-viral-load-and-why-are-so-many-health-work

              1. A lot of people don’t know what it means. And how does it relate to the assertion that “once a year for 3 hours is much more dangerous than every day for 10 minutes because viral load is implicated in infection”? I mean, how does the fact that viral load (which means, the number of virions per unit volume in a person’s body) imply that once a year for three hours is more dangerous than every day for ten minutes? You’re much more likely to encounter someone who has a high viral load (and is therefore likely to infect you) if you spend ten minutes every day in a crowded area, and stay home the rest of the time, than you are if you spend three hours in a crowded area once a year and stay home the rest of the time. Just count the number of times you encounter another person, who might have a high viral load and infect you, in the two different situations.

        2. Human beings have no innate understanding of statistics or risk assessment, it’s why we will have churches and casinos until we craft our replacements.

          As you noted a one time highly pandemic risk controlled event is not a significant risk to keeping R < 1. Outdoors? Check. Vast majority COVID negative? Check. Standard group preventative measures followed (distancing – masking – restricted mingling, lingering)? Check.

          Not reasonably comparable with an repetitive indoor gathering with reduced or absent group prevention measures with meeting requirements of loud talking, singing and other high risk droplet producing activities.

          Restricting the occurrence of events with super-spreader conditions from occurring is step 2 of pandemic control. Large poorly controlled repeating events is what needs to be restricted.

          Just think of providing a single controlled event that will give the cats something ‘normal’ to think about other than the pandemic as the equivalent of a really nice laser pointer.

  16. We all know that you can only get Covid at a Trump rally or Sturgis motorcycle rally. That is what #science tells us. Whereas, because of the magic of diversity, you cannot get Covid at a SJW riot or similar “event”. Anyone who knows anything about #science knows that diversity does magical things.

    1. When pressed, some medical experts, who are not cowering in fear of cancellation and losing their talking head positions, claim historical racism is far worse than a a few extra, or even a few thousand extra deaths due to Covid. It is the fighting of a bigger problem.

      This analysis stops short of recognizing why religion is in the first amendment, to stop, or at least slow, warring factions from taking over, leading to megadeaths in actual wars, and so government not outlawing certain religious practices is wrong in the bigger picture, too, because of similar, and arguably magnitudes larger, numbers of deaths historically.

    2. “We all know that you can only get Covid at a Trump rally . . .”

      Really?

  17. Vote Democrat. Deserve to suffer.

    1. What a cruel thing to say. No one deserved to suffer.

      Also the Harediem don’t generally vote democrat (sometimes they do locally because NY politics is weird and corrupt but certainly not nationally.)

    2. Yes, that’s why I was thrilled to see the liberal Jewish asshole and his mother get attacked by a group of black thugs in Manhattan the other day. I’m sure he was one of the “woke” crowd who supports BLM, defunding the police, and opposes civilian gun ownership.

      Let the liberals reap the consequences of their voting.

  18. The Haredim do not deserve to suffer. Most are Republican.

  19. Why would it be hard for the Solicitor General to answer the question?: “When religionists agree to services outdoors, with extreme social distancing, pre-event Covid testing, supervised mask wearing, and post-event contact tracing, then the situation will be comparable, and such meetings will be permitted.”

    1. Yeah, this latest attempt to gin up outrage will only work on people who are looking for reasons to get outraged and this is too good to check.

      Which is a nontrivial number of people around here.

    2. How about…

      “When BLM/Antifa agree to protesting only with extreme social distancing, pre-event Covid testing, supervised mask wearing, and post-event contact tracing, then the situation will be comparable, and such events will be permitted.”

  20. SO they can sit in the stadium, but can they eat anything? Isn’t outdoor dining dangerous?

    1. It’s a risk, but doesn’t seem nearly the risk indoor dining is.

      Of course, that’s far from cut and dry, and policies vary from place to place.

      1. This is all pure speculation. We’re tanking the economy, our legal precedents, and people’s health based on anecdotal examples, poorly defined extrapolation, and pseudoscientific pronouncements.

        The politicians all have “dosomethingitis” in this pandemic – they have no idea what to do, but they want to be perceived as having tried because they are accountable to the (largely scientifically illiterate) masses.

        I don’t blame them … it is the scientists who speak with an unsupported arrogance who are the real culprits.

        1. I don’t disagree – but the cost-benefit to the economy is no less speculative.

          We elect politicians to weigh these decisions. If they are clearly wrong, they will get outvoted. But that’s not the case, even if you think so very passionately.

  21. 6700 fans – isnt that more than usually show up for a Bills game?

    1. I spent several happy years in Buffalo. Bills fans are legendarily passionate and turn out in good years and bad.

      1. I find it funny that you think that says something about how many Bills fans there are. They can still be legendarily passionate if there are only a few hundred of them.

        Joe Dallas’s comment wasn’t about how passionate Bills fans are, it was about how many Bills fans there are. He was alleging that there are fewer than 6700 of them.

        1. OK, I’ll spell it out in short words: “they turn out in good years and bad.” And in big numbers.

  22. Latest studies indicate there is no evidence that asymptomatic spread actually occurs or is a meaningful vector of COVID spread.

    The entire COVID response is a farce.

    1. Citations or GTFO.

      Plus, past policies cannot be based on the latest studies, so your argument has some fundamental causality issues.

      Of course, we won’t really know much till the longitudinal studies come out.

      1. Cao, S., Gan, Y., Wang, C. et al. “Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China.” Nat Commun 11, 5917 (2020).

        By the way, we’ve known for a long time that COVID had very-little to no asymptomatic transmission, just like the other varieties of coronavirus. But when this got stated publicly, the panic-mongers howled, and people like you fell for it.

        1. Virus cultures were negative for all asymptomatic positive and repositive cases, indicating no “viable virus” in positive cases detected in this study.

          This appears to be the point of the paper you cited. Which is not what you are using it to prove.

          we’ve known for a long time that COVID had very-little to no asymptomatic transmission
          No, we haven’t. You’re getting bad info.

      2. Maybe you you get outside your in-group, which includes Tony and Kirkland. https://www.statnews.com/2020/06/09/who-comments-asymptomatic-spread-covid-19/

        Don’t try to claim that this shows there is evidence, the WHO answer is that there is no evidence, the answer is unknown. Unknown. Your argument re past policy has fundamental issues: policy makers often fail to accept new information that does not fit with their preconceived biases, so past policies influence current policy more often than new data.

    2. Pandemic management tips from the Volokh Conspiracy’s carefully cultivated collection of science-disdaining, anti-social, bigoted, right-wing fans are always a treat.

  23. Herr Cuomo is a miserable piece of sh*t. I hope his daughters get ovarian cancer.

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