Las Vegas Mayor at Odds with Nevada Governor over Reopening Casinos Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry.  Non-essential businesses all over the country have closed, including casinos.  Naturally, many will be hit hard economically, and that’s especially true for those in the tourism industry, like Las Vegas.  So it’s no surprise that there are economic concerns over the mandated closures.  However, what was a surprise was the way Las Vega Mayor Carolyn Goodman treated the seriousness of the pandemic in her CNN interview with Anderson Cooper.  Forbes reports:

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the mayor of Sin City said she believes Las Vegas’ “nonessential” businesses like casinos should be permitted to operate again after being shut by a statewide order, so employees can get back to work—but came under fire on social media for not having a safety plan.

While Goodman told Cooper she believes social distancing should still be practiced even after businesses open, she said it isn’t her job as mayor to come up with a plan to ensure residents’ and visitors’ safety, and that the responsibility falls upon private business owners to figure out how to protect customers.

When asked by Cooper about the dangers of having large groups of people congregated together—which is against Centers for Disease Control coronavirus safety guidelines told Cooper he was being “an alarmist,” and also said he was too focused on disease while she was “talking about life and living,” to which Cooper replied, “Okay, that makes no sense.”

Unfortunately, the seemingly unbelievable responses from the Las Vegas Mayor were far from over.  In a rather bizarre attempt to find some justification for being open when the rest of the country was closed, Mayor Goodman explained how she wanted to put the city up as a test group and just let everyone in to see what happens.  Forbes continues:

During the interview, Goodman said she wanted to offer up the city “as a control group for health authorities to measure against other places still under lockdown as the city opens up to test the efficacy of social distancing, but said she was told by Las Vegas’ statistician that it wasn’t an option because people from all parts of southern Nevada come into Las Vegas for work each day, which would create too many variables.

Goodman’s comments seemed to echo previous statements she made, including telling MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday that if the casinos are allowed to open, the locations where people become infected by the virus could later be closed, a method that critics called “a /Hunger Games/” approach  to reopening the city.

Luckily for the people of Las Vegas and those addicted gamblers that might actually flock to Vegas should it open ahead of the rest of the country, Nevada state Governor Steve Sisolak is not letting Las Vegas open prematurely and under the draconian Hunger Games approach suggested my Mayor Goodman.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

In a testy interview with CNN’s Anderson CooperWednesday, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman repeatedly called for business to return to normal. “I’d love everything open because we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” she said at one point. 

Goodman also criticized Cooper for showing a graphic from Chinese researchers that showed how easily the coronavirus can be spread in public. “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada,” Goodman said, prompting a stunned Cooper to retort: “Wow. OK, that’s really ignorant.”

Goodman acknowledged she does not have the authority to reopen casinos or other businesses in the city. That call will come from Nevada governor Steve Sisolak. And Sisolak is not rushing to get back to business as usual. In an interview with Cooper after Goodman’s comments Wednesday, Sisolak said Nevada is “clearly not ready to reopen” and that he will not use Nevada as a “control group” for the rest of the country.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued strict guidelines earlier this week detailing the many steps that casinos will need to take before reopening. And casino employees have also balked at the idea of returning to work. “The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in a statement. “Health and safety is our priority. Workers and guests have to be safe,” she added.

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