Las Vegas Mayor Carol Goodman wants her town’s casinos to re-open as soon as possible and is willing to use casino workers and guests as subjects in a mass epidemiology experiment to do so. Goodman aired her unusual ideas yesterday in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that’s garnered plenty of attention for the heretofore unknown politician.

Goodman started out on the right foot saying, “I want our restaurants open. I want our small businesses open. I want people back in employment.” That’s a sentiment that’s shared by every politician across our locked down planet. Las Vegas, like most cities, relies on revenue from businesses to fund essential city services like police department and road maintenance. But in her zeal to re-open, Goodman quickly veered on to some thoughts that came across as less-than-thoughtful.

The Mayor made it clear that Las Vegas, its citizens and visitors, would be a good “control group” for seeing how the virus spreads. After all, no one has immunity to the virus and getting everyone out and about allows casinos to be used as laboratories. She went on to point out that customers would quickly avoid casinos where the virus was known to be found. Goodman also suggested that casinos would “figure it out” on their own, without offering any further guidance or explanation.

A clearly stunned Cooper asked Goodman if she’d be willing to spend some evenings in a casino as part of the “control group”. Goodman demurred saying both that she had a family (though presumably casino workers have families, too) and that she hasn’t gambled much since she first moved to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is unquestionably taking an economic beating during the COVID-19 lockdown and is likely to be feeling severe aftershocks long after a COVID-19 vaccine is developed (assuming that happens at all). Given that scenario, Goodman’s zeal for re-opening is understandable, but her idea of turning the Vegas Strip into a massive petri dish flies in the face of more effective, and newly ironic, marketing slogans like, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”


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