Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants the city to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, offering up Vegas as a "control group" to measure the effects of lifting restrictions. In a lengthy interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, the independent mayor's remarks drew criticism from other Nevada officials.
On Wednesday, as some states began to plan on easing COVID-19 lockdowns, Goodman questioned the effectiveness of social distancing measures and said that Vegas could serve as a "placebo" of sorts.
"We offered to be a control group," she said. "I offered to be a control group and I was told by our statistician you can't do that because people from all parts of southern Nevada come in to work in the city and 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."
"We would love to be that placebo side so you have something to measure against," she added.
Despite her call to open Vegas hotels, restaurants and casinos, she had no plan to offer on how to do it safely and pinned the responsibility on businesses to come up with guidelines themselves.
"I am not a private owner," said Goodman, who doesn't have jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip. "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 small boutique to be open, they better figure it out."
"That's their job," she added. "That's not the mayor's job."
Nevada's Democratic governor fired back on CNN. "I will not allow the citizens of Nevada, our Nevadans, to be used as a control group, as a placebo, whatever she wants to call it," said Gov. Steve Sisolak, who closed the Strip in March.
"We want to welcome everybody back to Las Vegas," he added. "We want to welcome them back to the lights on the Strip. But it's not today and it's not tomorrow."
There have been 163 coronavirus deaths in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, according to the city's data.
Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus represents the city of Las Vegas and criticized Goodman for offering up her "constituents as though they're guinea pigs in some grand experiment."
"We can bring back the economy which is one the things she seems to think is a priority, but you can't bring back people's lives," Titus said on CNN.
Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Vegas, was also turned off by Goodman's comments.