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Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman downplays coronavirus threat as she pushes to reopen city

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman doubled down on her calls for the city’s businesses to reopen while shirking any responsibility for making sure that happens safely during an off-the-rails interview with CNN. 

Goodman, an independent, has been a fierce critic of Nevada’s stay-at-home order, branding it ‘total insanity’ as she fights to reopen her city. 

CNN host Anderson Cooper grilled her about her stance on Wednesday, asking how she plans to ensure that people continue social distancing in crowded casinos and restaurants.  

The mayor responded by insisting that it isn’t her job to implement social distancing guidelines.  

‘I am not a private owner. That’s the competition in this country. The free enterprise and to be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public,’ Goodman said.  

‘Right now, we’re in a crisis health-wise, and so for a restaurant to be open or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That’s their job. That’s not the mayor’s job.’

She later added: ‘I’d love everything open because I think we’ve had viruses for years that have been here.’

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman doubled down on her calls for the city’s businesses to reopen while shirking any responsibility for making sure that happens safely during an off-the-rails interview with CNN on Wednesday

Goodman struck a calm casual tone throughout the interview as Cooper appeared to grow more and more frustrated by her dodging his questions.  

‘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?’ Cooper asked.

‘You know what, it sounds like you’re being an alarmist,’ Goodman replied. ‘I’m not. I’ve lived a long life, I grew up in the heart of Manhattan, I know what it’s like to be with subways, on buses and crammed into elevators.’

Questioned about whether she believes there should be social distancing, Goodman said: ‘Of course I believe there should be social distancing. Of course. I’m a rational.’

‘How do you do that in casinos?’ Cooper pressed. 

‘That’s up to them to figure out,’ Goodman responded. ‘I don’t own a casino, I don’t know anything about building a casino.’

‘Wait a minute – you’re the mayor of Las Vegas, and you want casinos to be open even though you have no authority, thankfully, over casinos. 

‘You say open them up – you have no responsibility about how that would be done safely?’ Cooper asked. 

 ‘No, no, no, you’re blurring. I’m not going there,’ Goodman said. 

‘You said it’s not your job,’ Cooper noted. 

‘I am not a private owner of a hotel,’ Goodman said. ‘I wish I were. I would have the cleanest hotel with six feet figured out for every human who comes in there.’

Cooper appeared to grow increasingly frustrated over the course of the interview, at one put covering his face with his hands

Cooper appeared to grow increasingly frustrated over the course of the interview, at one put covering his face with his hands 

Goodman charged that businesses like casinos and restaurants should be responsible for ensuring social distancing among their customers. Pictured: A man walks by a closed casino in downtown Las Vegas on April 9

Goodman charged that businesses like casinos and restaurants should be responsible for ensuring social distancing among their customers. Pictured: A man walks by a closed casino in downtown Las Vegas on April 9 

At another point in the interview Cooper pulled up a chart from a Chinese study which showed how coronavirus spreads within restaurants. 

Before he could finish explaining it, Goodman interjected: ‘This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada.’

‘Wow, that’s really ignorant,’ Cooper responded in disbelief before continuing his explanation of how COVID-19 is thought to be spread through restaurant air conditioning systems. 

Goodman then launched into a history lesson about Legionnaires disease, typhoid and Ebola, claiming that the US has learned from those past experiences and knows how to handle outbreaks better now. 

Cooper said: ‘None of those were as infectious in Las Vegas – you didn’t have Ebola on a casino floor.’

‘Well, we don’t know that,’ Goodman replied. 

At one point in the interview Cooper pulled up a chart from a Chinese study which showed how coronavirus spreads within restaurants. Before he could finish explaining it, Goodman interjected: 'This isn't China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada'

At one point in the interview Cooper pulled up a chart from a Chinese study which showed how coronavirus spreads within restaurants. Before he could finish explaining it, Goodman interjected: ‘This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada’

Goodman used the same rationale for reopening in an earlier TV appearance, arguing that Las Vegas has survived other diseases including SARS and bird flu and can get through the coronavirus pandemic as well.  

‘Consider the fact that we have grown so exponentially here over the past 40 years, it’s been incredible. We’ve survived the West Nile, SARS, bird flu, E. coli, swine flu, the Zika virus…’ Goodman said in a MSNBC interview Tuesday.  

Host Katy Tur challenged her pointing out those diseases were not as contagious as COVID-19.

‘Well, we’ll find out the facts afterwards unfortunately. We all do better in hindsight,’ the mayor replied. 

Goodman (pictured in January) is suggesting a modern day survival of the fittest plan to reopen casinos and shops in which businesses that report cases of COVID-19 will be shut down

Goodman (pictured in January) is suggesting a modern day survival of the fittest plan to reopen casinos and shops in which businesses that report cases of COVID-19 will be shut down

Due to the outbreak Las Vegas faces a deficit of nearly $150million over the next 18 months, demand for food is up 30 percent as long lines appear across the city at food pantries, and over 300,000 Nevadans have applied for unemployment in the past month.

Nevada has the 22nd largest number of cases per 100,000 people in the US with over 4,000 cases of COVID-19 and 172 deaths, according to state government data. 

The state has seen its cases continue to steadily rise. Overnight Clark County, which covers Las Vegas, observed increase in 144 new cases and nine deaths. 

Goodman is suggesting a modern day survival of the fittest plan to reopen casinos and shops in which businesses that report cases of COVID-19 will be shut down. 

‘Let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business. If, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down. It’s that simple,’ she said. 

Tur repeatedly confronted Goodman with government numbers showing that COVID-19 cases and deaths are still increasing, saying: ‘But those are the facts. We have a death toll that proves that.’

‘Perhaps. We do deal in crowds and we have lived through all of these other virus, highly contagious diseases and yet we’ve managed to continue to have wonderful conventions come up here,’ Goodman said.

‘I look to Dr. Fauci who says this is a virus that’s gonna be here and could recur next year or could last all the way into December. So do we absolutely keep everybody out of work and destroy the lives of people and our children and the next generation because we have a fight on our hands with a virus?

‘I am making the assumption that everybody is a carrier so let’s go forward, open up the city, open up whoever wants to open up but do it in a very responsible, cautious way,’ Goodman added. 

Goodman has been Nevada’s loudest opponent to the state’s lockdown and closure of nonessential businesses that lasts through April 30. 

A view of the empty Las Vegas Strip on April 3 pictured above as locals are ordered to stay at home and businesses are shut down

A view of the empty Las Vegas Strip on April 3 pictured above as locals are ordered to stay at home and businesses are shut down

Across the US there are over 837,600 cases of the virus and over 46,700 deaths

Across the US there are over 837,600 cases of the virus and over 46,700 deaths

In an April 15 City Council meeting she said: ‘I am asking, open the city, open Clark County, open the state. For heaven’s sake, for being closed is killing us already and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we haves all worked so hard to build.’

Las Vegas faces a deficit of nearly $150million over the next 18 months, according to the Las Vegas Journal-Review. 

Casino companies are projected to lose $39billion in the next 12 to 18 months, according to the analysis by the Nevada Resort Association, a casino-industry trade group. 

In Nevada, the jobless rate jumped to 6.3 percent in March, a major increase from the all-time low of 3.6 percent in January and February, according to US News.  

Goodman appeared on the cable network hours after Diamond Resorts founder and former CEO Stephen Cloobeck slammed her pleas to reopen as ‘utter bulls**t’.

‘She has nothing to do with the strip, and we’re sick and tired of hearing this,’ he said.  

Despite her pleads Nevada’s Gov. Steve Sisolak is not standing down. 

Last week he said he would not bow to pressure from critics demanding to reopen casinos and businesses for short-term economic gain.   

‘I’m putting the lives of my fellow Nevadans ahead of dollars,’ he said. 

He added the state will reopen ‘when the time is right. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch.’  

Nevada's Gov. Steve Sisolak said last week he would not bow to pressure from critics demanding to reopen casinos and businesses for short-term economic gain

Nevada’s Gov. Steve Sisolak said last week he would not bow to pressure from critics demanding to reopen casinos and businesses for short-term economic gain

Demand at food banks in Las Vegas has surged by 30 percent. Volunteer Nicole Palacio waits to put a box of food items into a vehicle at a drive-thru Three Square Food Bank emergency food distribution site at Palace Station Hotel & Casino in response to an increase in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 16

Demand at food banks in Las Vegas has surged by 30 percent. Volunteer Nicole Palacio waits to put a box of food items into a vehicle at a drive-thru Three Square Food Bank emergency food distribution site at Palace Station Hotel & Casino in response to an increase in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 16

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer J. Gutierrez opens a box of apples at a drive-thru Three Square Food Bank emergency food distribution site on April 16

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer J. Gutierrez opens a box of apples at a drive-thru Three Square Food Bank emergency food distribution site on April 16

Long lines of cars have appeared at food banks across the city where the wait time is sometimes hours to get food supplies

Long lines of cars have appeared at food banks across the city where the wait time is sometimes hours to get food supplies

Employees from Cat's Meow Las Vegas karaoke bar pictured preparing to hand out cases of water to people on the Las Vegas Strip to people in need

Employees from Cat’s Meow Las Vegas karaoke bar pictured preparing to hand out cases of water to people on the Las Vegas Strip to people in need

President Donald Trump said over the weekend that Sisolak’s order led ‘a big hotel’ of his to be shut down, but he said he was ‘okay’ with the lockdown measures.

Las Vegas is projected to receive as much as $160million in stimulus funding, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, as the city reels from a spike in unemployment, triggering long lines at local food pantries.   

Goodman is just one of a slew of politicians across the country pushing to reopen.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have announced limited reopenings that starting this week through the end of the month.

Protests have also broken out across the country as citizens demand their governors reopen the economy and give them back their jobs.  



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