The mayor of Las Vegas wants her city reopened as a coronavirus “control group” – and says casinos and other business should sort out safety measures for themselves.
“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,” mayor Carolyn Goodman has told CNN.
Ms Goodman – who doesn’t control the city’s famous casino strip – has been a vocal critic of business closures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, previously describing them as “insanity”.
Las Vegas’ casinos have been closed for weeks after state Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a mandatory shutdown of most nonessential businesses until April 30.
This week, Ms Goodman told MSNBC’s Katy Tur that Las Vegas should reopen, on the basis that “everybody’s a carrier”.
“You start from an even slate, right there, and tell the people what to do,” she said.
“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.”
Tur was less than supportive of the idea, calling it “modern-day survival of the fittest”.
At least 163 people have died from the coronavirus in Nevada, and the state has nearly 4000 confirmed cases. However, there is a growing push across the US – despite nearly 48,000 deaths and more than 800,000 cases – to end lockdowns.
Ms Goodman’s comments came as protesters have marched in a host of mostly Republican states, calling for local economies to restart.
CNN host Anderson Cooper also questioned Ms Goodman’s theory, saying casinos involved crowds of people touching slot machines and breathing recirculated air. Those people would then return to their homes in other US states.
“Doesn’t that sound like a virus Petri dish?” he said.
Ms Goodman said: “No, it sounds like you’re being an alarmist.”
She also shrugged off Cooper’s suggestion that social distancing and lockdowns had helped keep virus numbers lower in Nevada.
“How do you know until we have a control group?” she said.
“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. We would love to be that placebo side so that you have something to measure against.”
On Wednesday, Mr Sisolak refused to set a date to reopen Nevada.
If would have to be done in a “controlled and informed manner”, to avoid a “tidal wave in two to three weeks”, he said.