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Tue Dec 22, 2020, 12:44 PM

Erie County Executive Poloncarz shuts down covid briefing over press obsession with Bills playoffs

Yesterday Mark Poloncarz gave a press briefing on the status of Erie County's covid 19 cases which have made the county and surrounding areas into an orange zone.

After noting that the rise in cases and deaths has levelled a bit since the orange zone restrictions, Poloncarz expressed concern about new spikes likely after Christmas. He talked about vaccination plans, and then opened the briefing to media questions.

One reporter asked about public access to Bills home games in the playoffs. Poloncarz said spectators would not be allowed. Then one question after another focussed on how spectators might be allowed in, e.g. after testing, or if a limted number of tested people might be allowed, etc.

Poloncarz was noticeably annoyed and said that tests are being used for monitoring a serious crisis and he would not waste them on getting people into games that they could safely watch from home .

When still another Bills question came up, Poloncarz told reporters to "get some priorities." He said people are dying and we're struggling to contain infections and all the media can talk about is risking the players' and potential spectators' health and lives by opening up for the public."

He repeated that they needed to get some perspective and priorities. In the usual media manner, reporters tried to call out over each other their questions about the Bills games and Poloncarz said, "That's it. We're done. People are dying and all you can ask about is sports. Anybody with questions unrelated to the Bills can contact our office."

He left. Update over.

I share his disgust and applaud him for his handling of it.

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Reply Erie County Executive Poloncarz shuts down covid briefing over press obsession with Bills playoffs (Original post)
wnylib Dec 2020 OP
dchill Dec 2020 #1
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #2
wnylib Dec 2020 #3
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #4
wnylib Dec 2020 #5
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #6
wnylib Dec 2020 #7
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #8
wnylib Dec 2020 #9

Response to wnylib (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2020, 12:49 PM

1. Added for branding purposes...

Party: Democratic Party.

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Response to wnylib (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2020, 12:49 PM

2. It is only their 3rd playoff game in 21 years, and the first to be hosted in Buffalo

In 25 years.

They haven't won their division in 25 years either due to 2 decades of Belichick/Brady dominance.

It's a pretty friggin big deal for that small (by NFL standards) City. The demand to allow people to attend has got to be overwhelming.

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 22, 2020, 01:33 PM

3. The hospital cases are becoming overwhelming.

Priorities. Life versus entertainment.

Poloncarz is struggling to contain the spread and facing a Christmas and New Year spike. Cases are already exponentially higher now than in the spring. He is a sports fan himself. Used to be a coach - hockey or soccer, I forget which. But right now he is under the stress of saving lives in the face of indifference to the dangers.

Buffalo had another crisis a few years ago in which sports fans lost perspective. When 7 to 9 feet of snow fell in 48 hours, the whole region shut down. Cuomo came in person to supervise the rescue of people trapped in cars and stranded in buses, delivering emergency medicine, getting EMTs to emergencies, getting kidney patients to dialysis treatments, etc.

In the middle of this, the Bills owner called for volunteers to clear the stadium for a game. He offered them money to use whatever means they could to get there with plows and shovels so there could be a game.

I don't remember if it was the mayor, governor, or someone else, but somebody asked people to ignore the call to the stadium and offer snowmobiles and plows for emergencies instead.

Sports are great, but they should never take precedence over lives in a crisis.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 22, 2020, 09:08 PM

4. Let's just say I can kinda see both sides ...

But of course health and safety should come first.

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 24, 2020, 01:12 AM

5. Update.

The NFL is negotiating with the state health department to have 6700 fans attend the game. No decision yet, but they are trying to arrange tests for attendees and have the Bills take charge of monitoring the entrance and seating. The attendees would have to be contact traced afterward.

Really? Is it worth it to expend so much time and testing materials to placate people who demand a superspreader event at a time when cases are spiking?

The state health commissioner said they can do the testing and the Bills can supervise people in the stands, but he is concerned about the inevitable parties and tailgating that will spread the virus even further in the community.

Poloncarz said the county is not involved in the negotiations and has not been consulted. He also said that the county does not have the capacity for the amount of testing required. It will have to be done by someone else. He is not happy and I feel for him. He is the one who will be frantically dealing with the consequences in two weeks, on top of what he and local hospitals are already dealing with.

Total insanity, IMO.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 24, 2020, 01:20 AM

6. Yeah, it really doesn't seem too wise, I agree ...

Thanks for the update on the saga ...

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 24, 2020, 01:34 AM

7. If people are so hell bent on

going to the game in person, they should be required to sign a statement in advance that they will forego hospital treatment if they get sick. Save the space and the meds and staff for other people who will need care, e.g. the victims of the 6700 potential vectors.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 24, 2020, 11:38 AM

8. I don't know that this could be legally done, but ...

Yeah there's all kinds of people I wish we could make that happen with.

As an aside, lots of NFL games this year HAVE had people at them, you do know that right?

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 24, 2020, 12:36 PM

9. Yes, I know that. And I'm sure you know that

the infection and death rates in the US are shooting up everywhere right now. There are many reasons for that, like schools and colleges reopening, Halloween and Thanksgiving, not to mention the Trump campaign superspreaders. They will get much higher by the time Christmas and New Year are over. Why add large, unnecessary group events to an already bad mix?

If rates nationally, or in NY were lower, I would not feel so strongly about it. But with the rates as high as they are now, the chances of undetected infected people at the game are high. The result could be like a Trump rally, with several people picking up the virus to carry back to family and community.

I'm thinking of the 1918 flu pandemic and a tale of two cities. In Philadelphia, community leaders assurred people there was little to worry about and they went ahead with a huge parade, attended by large crowds. In St. Louis, people were urged to wear masks, avoid groups, and stay socially distant.

Allowing for population differences, Philadelphia had 3 times the rate of deaths that St. Louis did.

BTW, my comment about signed statements was not literal. But I do wish it was possible because I am tired of people putting their own desires ahead of the well being of the rest of us, whether it's sports, parties, or megachurch services.

After a horrible spring, NY state got it's infection rate down to less than 1%. Western NY was never as bad as NYC, but it was not good, either. Now, my small community, which is near Buffalo, but outside of the immediate area of the city and suburbs, just recently dropped from 8.8% infections to around 7.5% for a weekly rate. We're grateful for the drop because it will get worse again after Christmas. The timing for a big sports event is just not good.

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