Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman clashed with CNN host Anderson Cooper over her plea to reopen casinos and restaurants in the city. Last week, Goodman compared COVID-19 to the common flu.
“Those whom we’ve lost represent less than a half of 1 percent of our population, which has caused us to shut down our entire state and everything that makes Nevada unique,” Goodman said last week. “From my perspective, we must open our city, we must open Southern Nevada, and we must open the state of Nevada.”
Every casino in the state closed on March 17 after Gov. Steve Sisolak called for nonessential businesses — including dine-in restaurants and bars — to shut. His stay-at-home order is in effect through April 30. During an interview with Cooper on Wednesday, Goodman reiterated that Las Vegas should reopen for business.
The conversation started off contentiously, with Cooper showing a diagram of how COVID-19 could spread through a restaurant based on a study done by Chinese researchers.
“This isn’t China,” she said. “This is Las Vegas, Nevada.”
Cooper responded, “Wow, OK, that’s really ignorant.”
Goodman does not have authority over casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, which is part of Clark County. The Nevada Gaming Control Board and governor of Nevada would determine when casinos can reopen to the public. Yet Goodman contends that the lose of not only revenue, but jobs, is hurting the state more than the number of deaths or the potential to contract the disease.
“You’re encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to come to Las Vegas,” Cooper said. “I get the financial losses people are suffering, which is awful. But you’re encouraging … hundreds of thousands of people coming there in casinos smoking, drinking, touching slot machines, breathing circulated air, and then returning home to states around America and countries around the world. Doesn’t that sound like a virus petri dish?”
Goodman, whose husband, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, has a steakhouse named for him at The Plaza hotel in Downtown Las Vegas, called Cooper an alarmist, saying that she grew up in Manhattan and was accustomed to being in close quarters with strangers. Cooper wanted to know what she would do to promote social distancing in casinos so they could open, and Goodman responded, “That’s up to them to figure out. I don’t know anything about running a casino.”
Cooper pointed out that mayors in other cities were calling for additional testing for COVID-19 to find out when the curve flattened so businesses could reopen or trace testing to determine how the coronavirus is passed from one person to the next.
“If you can’t figure out how to do this safely, why, as mayor of a city that you are responsible for the people’s safety, are you calling for something that you have no plan for how it would be done safely?” Cooper asked.
“So for a restaurant to be open, or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That’s their job,” she responded.
Goodman says she talks to Las Vegas casino owners almost daily and they want to reopen so employees can get back to work. Cooper asked whether she was concerned about employees contracting COVID-19. “You’re talking disease,” Goodman responded. “I’m talking life. I’m talking life and living.”
“Wow, that’s really ignorant.”@AndersonCooper clashes with Las Vegas Mayor Goodman after she justified her wish to quickly reopen casinos saying, “this isn’t China, this is Las Vegas,” after he showed her a graphic of how coronavirus could spread in a restaurant in China. pic.twitter.com/w3QscYmiIH— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 22, 2020
Even comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Las Vegas and has a comedy club at The Linq Promenade, chimed in on the interview. “The @mayoroflasvegas Carolyn Goodman should resign before lunch arrives today. She is an embarrassment to my hometown,” he wrote on Twitter.
The @mayoroflasvegas Carolyn Goodman should resign before lunch arrives today. She is an embarrassment to my hometown.— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 22, 2020
Goodman’s interview comes after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans on Tuesday to keep his stay-at-home directive to slow the spread of COVID-19 in place through April 30 while coming up with a plan to reopen the state for business. While Sisolak says that he’s not ready to put a date on lifting the stay-at-home directive, he did reveal a plan for the conditions that need to be met in order to lift the ban and how the state would reopen businesses, including restaurants.
As of Wednesday, the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University reported 3,099 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 141 deaths in Southern Nevada.