ALBANY (TNS) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the state’s efforts to open a few thousand seats to Buffalo Bills fans amid the coronavirus pandemic for the team’s upcoming playoff game.

The plan, overseen by the state’s Health Department, would allow 6,700 fans to attend the game — but only after testing each person for COVID-19.

The goal, Cuomo said Monday, isn’t just to let fans into the Bills’ stadium in a year when the team won its first AFC East title in 25 years.

It could provide a model for rapidly testing large groups of people, and thereby reopening other economic activity that is still on hold because of the pandemic.

“This is not just about attending a football game,” Cuomo said today. “We are trying to find a way to reopen businesses.”

There’s still no final decision about the plan.

The idea drew criticism from some, including state lawmakers, who said football shouldn’t be a priority.

Cuomo argued that despite the early distribution of vaccines, it’s going to be months before enough people are inoculated and large groups are allowed to gather again. That means, for example, one of New York City’s top tourist attractions — Broadway — could be closed for much of 2021.

“We do have to have a model that shows we can start to reopen businesses,” he said. “Can you use testing to reopen a business safely? And can you do it on a large scale?”

Cuomo also noted that other NFL teams and stadiums are allowing some fans with no testing procedures. “The model DOH is using is smart,” he said of the state’sDepartment of Health.

THERE’S A NEW TREND in New York’s coronavirus data: In the past couple of days, the rate of those testing positive has jumped, but the number of people getting tested has slowed.

That could mean more people with symptoms are seeking tests over the holiday weekend, thus resulting in more positive test results, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

“To go up in two days is dramatic and very, very fast,” Cuomo said. “We’re studying what the uptick in that number actually means.”

On Sunday, 10,407 tests came back positive. That’s out of 124,866 tests reported — or an 8.33% positive rate.

Saturday’s statewide positive rate was lower — 5.85%.

At the same time, hospitalizations continue to rise across the state. Today, there are 7,559 patients in hospitals because of the coronavirus, an increase of 376 from the previous day. That higher number could be, in part, because discharges typically slow down on weekends, Cuomo said.

Western New York’s positivity rate rose from 6.16% on Saturday to 6.43% on Sunday, according to the governor’s office.

The state also reported another 114 deaths as the state marched inexorably to a 30,000 figure. There have been 29,629 confirmed deaths as of Sunday.

So far, New York has administered about 140,000 vaccines, Cuomo said.

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