The mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada, has offered up the city as a ‘control group’ during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she wants to see casinos, hotels and restaurants reopened despite the ongoing pandemic.
She said that when you compare the number of deaths to the numbers of people more widely affected by the shutdown, “you have to say we have to open up”.
Mr Cooper said: “But hasn’t it been because of social distancing that the numbers have been what they are?”
She said: “How do you know until you have a control group? We offered to be a control group.”
Mr Cooper said: “You’re offering the citizens of Las Vegas to be a control group to see if your theory of social distancing works or doesn’t work?”
To which she replied: “Wrong, absolutely wrong, don’t put words in my mouth. What I said was I offered to be a control group but I was told by our statistician you can’t do that because all parts of southern Nevada come into our city. We would love to be that placebo so science has something to measure against.”
Mr Cooper responded: “The group that gets the placebo usually gets the short end of the stick.”
“Well, you don’t know,” Goodman said. “How do you know when you’re a part of that group?”
Ms Goodman said the city “wasn’t broken” when it was shut down. She said some workers in the industry are now struggling to provide food for their families.
Mr Cooper asked if she would be willing to “put her money where your mouth is” and go to a casino every night if social distancing measures were ended, to which she replied: “I have a family, I cook every meal every night.”
“I want everything back. We’ve never closed down the United States before. We’ve never closed down Nevada. We’ve never closed down Las Vegas,” she said.
“We would never have gotten to the point we are now without being clean. I want us open in the city of Las Vegas so people can go back to work.”
Mr Cooper asked whether the mayor thought this could lead to Las Vegas becoming a virus petri dish.
She said: “It sounds like you’re being an alarmist.”
Cooper pointed out that the mayor would be putting casino workers, not the casino owners, at serious risk if they were required to go back to work.
“You’re talking disease. I’m talking life,” Goodman said. “I’m talking life and living.”
“Okay, that makes no sense,” Cooper said.
Asked whether she thought social distancing was needed, Ms Goodman said: “Of course I believe there should be.”
But she added: “That’s up to them to figure out, I don’t own a casino. I am not a private owner of a hotel. I wish I were. I would have the cleanest hotel with six feet figured out for every human that comes in there.”
To date, the United States has confirmed more than 840,000 cases of coronavirus, over 500,000 more positive cases than any other country in the world. Around 33,000 tests have been carried out in the state of Nevada. More than 42m people visited Las Vegas in 2019.