- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman traded barbs Wednesday with CNN host Anderson Cooper while defending her call to reopen city businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Goodman, an independent, shrugged off concerns raised by Mr. Cooper about the consequences of letting shuttered establishments such as casinos prematurely open their doors again, labeling the CNN host an “alarmist” for questioning her push to have Vegas businesses back up and running.

Mr. Cooper, on his part, called the mayor “ignorant” for dismissing a Chinese study about how people spread COVID-19, the highly contagious disease caused by the coronavirus.

Their comments occurred during a lengthy and at times contentious television interview conducted as Ms. Goodman remains among the loudest critics of the continuing statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses ordered by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.

After previously describing the shutdown as “total insanity,” Ms. Goodman said during another TV interview earlier this week that Vegas businesses should reopen with the assumption that “everybody is a carrier” and await the outcome.

“And then you start from an even slate,” Ms. Goodman said Tuesday on MSNBC. “And tell the people what to do. And 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.”

Pressed by Mr. Cooper the next afternoon, Ms. Goodman said that she believes that businesses including casinos and hotels should be able to reopen, notwithstanding concerns about their conditions being ideal for worsening an infectious disease outbreak.

“I get the financial losses people are suffering, which is awful, but you’re encouraging, I mean, 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,” Mr. Cooper said. “Doesn’t that sound like a virus petri dish?”

“No, it sounds like you’re being an alarmist,” Ms. Goodman responded. “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 and on buses and crammed into elevators.”

Asked later to explain how casinos would be able to operate in accordance with social distancing practices recommended by public health officials to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Ms. Goodman replied: “That’s up for them to figure out. I don’t own a casino.”

Presented later in the interview with a study out of China about how the coronavirus spreads, Ms. Goodman responded: “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada.”

“Wow. OK, that’s really ignorant,” Mr. Cooper replied. “That’s an ignorant statement. … Yes, it’s in China, but they are human beings too.”

Video of the interview was shared widely on social media afterward and resulted in the discussion being among the top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. later Wednesday.

Among those who weighed in on Twitter in response to Ms. Goodman’s comments going viral was late-night TV host and Las Vegas native Jimmy Kimmel.

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

The stay-at-home order temporarily shutting nonessential businesses within Nevada currently is slated to end April 30. Most states in the country have imposed similar restrictions.

Ms. Goodman has estimated that close to 900,000 people in Vegas are out of work as a result of the shutdown.

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