Politicians and the city’s culinary union swiftly responded to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s interview on CNN on Wednesday with host Anderson Cooper, where Goodman called for Nevada to reopen for business. Last week, Goodman compared COVID-19 to the common flu.
Every casino in the state closed on March 17 after Gov. Steve Sisolak called for nonessential businesses — including casinos, dine-in restaurants, and bars — to shutter as a safety precaution. His stay-at-home order is in effect through April 30.
“We want to welcome everybody back to Las Vegas,” Sisolak told Cooper later on Wednesday night. “We want to welcome them back to the lights on the Strip, but that’s not today and it’s not tomorrow.”
Sisolak says he’s watching a number of factors to determine when Nevada can start reopening for business, including the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, ventilator usage, and the percent of positive tests. 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.
“I’m not gonna allow our workers to be put in a position that they have to decide between their job and their paycheck and their life,” Sisolak said. “That’s not a fair position to put them in and I will not allow that to happen.”
Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick called on people to remain patient. “We know that we need to be careful with the reopening of our local economy,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “Doing so too soon and without appropriate protective measures in place would put us all in danger.”
Mayor Goodman told Cooper at one point that she thought the city could become a control group without social distancing measures.
“I offered to be a control group and I was told by our statistician you can’t do that because people from all parts of southern Nevada come in to work in the city and I said, ‘Oh, that’s too bad because I know when you have a disease, you have a placebo that gets the water and the sugar and then you get those that actually get the shot,’” she told CNN on Wednesday. “We would love to be that placebo side so you have something to measure against.”
As Clark County Commission chairwoman, Kirkpatrick oversees businesses including casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. She told CNN, “We certainly don’t want to be a ‘control group’ for some out-of-left-field school science project.”
Rep. Dina Titus, whose congressional district includes the city of Las Vegas, urged Goodman to take a more scientific approach. “I think that the mayor needs to listen to the scientists and the health-care specialists and stop talking about my constituents as though they’re guinea pigs and some grand experiment that she’s trying to conduct,” Titus told CNN host Don Lemon on Wednesday. “We can bring back the economy, which is one of the things she seems to think is a priority, but you can’t bring back people’s lives.”
Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, said that 11 union workers have died due to COVID-19. “The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential front-line workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” she said in a press statement. “Health and safety is our priority. Workers and guests have to be safe. We want people back to work, but it has to be safe and secure and we don’t want workers to be part of an experiment. Workplaces need to be safe and healthy — not a petri dish.”