Las Vegas Mayor Goodman Tells CNN She Offered America’s Playground As America’s Petri Dish In Outbreak

Posted on: April 22, 2020, 06:30h. 

Last updated on: April 23, 2020, 11:11h.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman grabbed the national spotlight Wednesday afternoon thanks to a combative interview conducted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. In it, the 81-year-old Independent admitted she proposed turning Sin City into a “control group” to study the impact COVID-19 would have on a community that didn’t shut down its nonessential businesses.

Goodman Cooper Vegas COVID-19
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman raised eyebrows during her interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday (Image: CNN)

That suggestion, she told Cooper, was shot down by the city’s statistician, who said that residents from across unincorporated Clark County come into the city for work and other purposes.

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,” Goodman said. “We would love to be that placebo side so you  have something to measure against.”

The back-and-forth left Cooper, a veteran journalist, exasperated. At one point in the exchange, he took his glasses off on camera, rubbing his eyes as if he could not believe what he was hearing.

When Cooper asked if the mayor herself would be willing to walk in casinos on a nightly basis, Goodman shot back asking why, proceeding to say she had a family.

“It would be putting money where your mouth is,” Cooper retorted.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 46,000 Americans and infected nearly 840,000 nationwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Many carriers have been determined to be without symptoms, but they unwittingly pass it on to others in weaker health, putting them at risk.

It turns out Goodman’s comments came on the same day as the state announced 15 deaths from the virus, the highest single-day total so far.

Kimmel: Goodman ‘An Embarrassment’

The midday interview on national television quickly became viral, with many stunned at what Goodman offered.

In a series of tweets, comedian and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, a Vegas native, called Goodman “dangerously misguided.” Few things shock him, but her comments did.

“The @mayoroflasvegas Carolyn Goodman should resign before lunch arrives today,” he posted. “She is an embarrassment to my hometown.”

At the heart of her argument, Goodman said that while the city has lost 150 people to COVID-19, it’s come at quite a loss to business owners and workers. She’s criticized the closure ordered by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak saying that it’s threatening the economy of the state’s largest city, home to 2.3 million people.

However, when Cooper pressed what businesses, including casinos, need to do in order to reopen, she said that’s the businesses’ responsibility.

“I am not a private owner,” she said. “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. 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.”

Goodman also took a swipe at Cooper, calling him an alarmist after he questioned if thousands of people should come from across the country and world to go to Vegas casinos, touch slot machines, breathe the same air, and then head back to their homes.

“I’ve lived a long life,” she said. “I grew up in the heart of Manhattan. I know what it’s like to be with subways and on buses and crammed into elevators.”

Officials Also Criticize Goodman

This is not the first time the mayor’s comments have caused a stir. Last week, she called the state’s handling of the coronavirus response “total insanity” during a city council meeting.

While Mayor, Goodman only serves and represents the actual city of Las Vegas. Almost all of the resort properties on the Las Vegas Strip are actually located in unincorporated Clark County. However, there are several casinos located within the city, including in downtown Vegas.

A mix of city, county, and state officials responded to Goodman’s comments with criticism, saying the region is not yet ready to begin the reopening process. That included Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine, who began his career working for the Golden Nugget casino.

“As a former downtown casino exec, I can’t imagine any actual Las Vegas operators want to use their employees/guests as a ‘control group,’” he tweeted. “The single worst thing we can do from a tourism/economic recovery standpoint is act like COVID-19 doesn’t matter.”

In his comments, Sisolak, who explained the state’s reopening process Tuesday, didn’t mention Goodman by name, but he noted that the Strip properties are not located in her jurisdiction.

“So to all those who can’t wait to come back, we can’t wait to welcome you – when the time is right. And we are working around the clock to ensure we are not only the most fun destination in the world, but the safest,” he tweeted.