James Dolan wants to hold a COVID-19 benefit concert in Madison Square Garden. His idea does not involve the use of face masks or social distancing. Instead, he wants to screen potential concert-goers for antibodies.
The New York Knicks owner and Madison Square Garden Company CEO outlined his plans Thursday in an op-ed in the New York Post, writing that he would love to host the event and believes he could do so safely. His plan is to test people for antibodies starting four weeks before the concert, have MSG pay for the tests, give “passports” to those who test positive and share the results with health agencies to help expand research.
All proceeds would go to COVID-19 relief. First responders and essential workers would get free admission.
“There are already an estimated 2 million New Yorkers who have COVID-19 antibodies and have cleared the virus,” Dolan writes. ” To date, it appears no one who has had the virus has been re-infected or passed the virus on.”
He writes that the concert “would serve as an example of how we can resume our lives and stay safe.” Dolan draws parallels to the Concert For New York City held after 9/11, writing that it is necessary for the city to return to normal and recover its economy.
“Our governments need to understand that the health of the city is not just measured by empty hospital beds,” he writes. “When we finally lift restrictions, how much of New York City will be left? How many more unemployed, homeless and shuttered businesses will there be? How many people will have permanently left the city? As of now, no one is coming here for Christmas.”
Dolan’s planned show would go against several warnings and recommendations from the medical community.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that getting COVID-19 once does not necessarily guarantee immunity, and not all antibody tests give accurate results. Mayo Clinic and the World Health Organization note that how long someone is immune and how strong that immunity is are both unknown. Additionally, Dolan cites only one study to justify his figure of 2 million.
News of Dolan’s concert plans comes as several states reported spikes in new coronavirus cases as lockdown and social distancing measures have been relaxed, including California, Texas, Arizona and Florida.
People within the music industry and scientists previously noted that concerts and other large-scale events may not be able to return safely until fall 2021.