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No Buffalo Bills fans in the stadium yet, Cuomo says. Here's why

Joseph Spector
New York State Team

ALBANY - The Buffalo Bills are leading their division. But they still can't have fans in the stands.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that rising COVID infection rates are troublesome in the region and it would be "reckless" to allow fans into Bills Stadium in Orchard Park.

The governor has said for weeks he was hopeful a limited number of fans would be allowed in the roughly 72,000-seat stadium.

But western New York is leading the state in its infection rate, he said, with a rate of 3.1% in Erie County and 2.6% percent in Monroe County, the two largest counties in the region.

Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft catches the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Los Angeles Rams and Bills. The Bills won 35-32.

So no fans for the 6-2 Bills.

"Hopefully we get the numbers under control and monitor to it on an ongoing basis" to potentially allow in fans before the season end, said Cuomo, who reiterated he's a Bills fan and would like to attend games.

The NFL and some states have allowed a limited number of fans in stadiums, but New York's COVID policies have prohibited have any live crowds at professional sporting events. 

For its part, the team has maintained it is up to the state to make the decision.

"At the end of August, we announced we would not be having fans for the first two games of our season based on guidance from the New York state Department of Health for professional sports," the team said in a statement to season-ticket holders in late September.

"As of today, there has been no change to those protocols and fans will not be able to attend home Bills games for the foreseeable future."

But the team said at the time was "working diligently behind the scenes to ensure we are ready to provide fans with a safe environment should protocols change and we are able to root for the Bills in person."

More:Fans at Buffalo Bills games still on hold; But Cuomo offers hope

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Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network's Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

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