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In an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman stressed the need for a control group to determine if social distancing measures are the tool that have kept American deaths below the early, catastrophic estimates. Generously for the United States — and unfortunately for the people of her neon city — she offered that Las Vegas be that control group, allowing a return to normal to see if an intensified outbreak would occur:
Goodman: We have to open up. We have to go back. Our bus drivers, our room cleaners, our restaurants —
Cooper: But hasn’t it been because of social distancing that the numbers have been what they are.
Goodman: How do you know until we have a control group? We offered to be a control group. Anybody who knows anything about statistic knows that for instance you have a vaccine, you give a real vaccine —
Cooper: You’re offering for the citizens of Las Vegas to be a control group to see if your theory on social distancing —
Goodman: I did offer, it was turned down.
The interview is a blooper reel of failed leadership. Describing her desire to reopen the city, Goodman stated that restaurants and retail stores “better figure it out” and that it’s “their job” to determine how to do that safely: “That’s not the mayor’s job.”
Goodman also displayed a grossly inadequate understanding of public health during a pandemic — she said she would “love everything open because I think we’ve had viruses for years that have been here.” When Cooper tried to show Goodman a graphic from a Chinese study showing how air-conditioning can spread the virus in indoor settings, she responded with, “This isn’t China, this is Las Vegas.” (Never mind the prevalence of central air in the upcoming months in the largest city in the Mojave.) And as Goodman offered to sacrifice the people she represents, her comments also showed a poor understanding of human behavior during a crisis in which the national daily death toll continues to rise every day. Polls show that a majority of Americans support social distancing measures, and would therefore be unlikely to fly or drive to Nevada, risking a choice between heaven or Las Vegas.
The mayor, an independent, is not the only lawmaker calling to reopen the country at the expense of their constituents. On Monday, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick said that “there are more important things than living,” like ensuring continued value for shareholders. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has already allowed many businesses to reopen, despite health experts warning that doing so without proper levels of testing could risk an immediate second outbreak. (Not all business owners are playing ball; “I’d rather be alive than run my business right now,” a barbershop owner told the Wall Street Journal.) But the knowledge that Goodman isn’t the only one advancing such views wasn’t enough to comfort Anderson Cooper.