Updated April 15, 2020 - 3:16 pm
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Wednesday called sweeping nonessential business closures “total insanity” as she once again pushed for Gov. Steve Sisolak to open the state for the sake of economic recovery.
“This shutdown has become one of total insanity in my opinion, for there is no backup of data as to why we are shut down from the start, no plan in place how to move through the shutdown or how even to come out of it,” Goodman said.
In contrast to the advice of national and local health professionals who continue to urge social distancing and self-quarantine measures amid a pandemic roiling the world, the mayor said that businesses should be allowed to reopen throughout Nevada.
To do so, she indicated, would put a cap on the negative effect the shutdown has had on families, small businesses and the city’s signature tourism industry because “being closed is killing us already.”
“The longer we wait to do this the more impossible it will become to recover and return to the home we all know and love,” she said, reading from a prepared statement at the beginning of the City Council meeting.
Sisolak’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the mayor’s remarks.
It isn’t the first time Goodman has appealed to the governor with a sense of urgency: She issued a plea last month to shorten the then 30-day shutdown to as little as eight days. Sisolak’s most recent directive extended the closures through April.
Citing experts she has spoken with, Goodman said the coronavirus or a derivative will simply “be part of what we work through going forward” not unlike the flu or similar illnesses, suggesting that time had come to return to normal life.
“We cannot keep our heads in the sand and think it’s going to go away,” she said. “We’re adults with brains who can know what to do to wash our hands, to take all precautions not to spread this disease.”
And while she offered condolences to those who have “tragically” lost loved ones to COVID-19, she also quantified those who have died from the disease as only a fraction of the state population.
“But let me tell you: with a population of 3.2 million living in Nevada, those whom we lost represent less than a half of one percent of our population, which has caused us to shut down our entire state and everything that makes Nevada unique,” she said.
By Wednesday afternoon, Nevada Health Response was reporting 131 deaths statewide, meaning that the death toll was a much lower percentage of the overall population than Goodman described.
Councilman Cedric Crear, who acknowledged his two businesses were hurting economically, said it was important that the city be nimble and responsive to businesses during this crisis, “but I also think it’s important that we do follow the regulations and follow the guidelines that our health care professionals are laying out for us because one death is too many.”
Crear, who said his aunt succumbed to COVID-19, suggested that as more testing hits the market, the number of infected people will rise and he argued there could be double or triple the number of positive cases seen now if it were not for self-quarantine measures.
As Las Vegas confronts a deficit of nearly $150 million over the next 18 months, it continues to prioritize measures to ease the burden on residents and businesses, while planning for economic turbulence, according to City Manager Scott Adams.
A conceptual draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year is balanced, he said, particularly with cooperation of the city’s collective bargaining units whose leaders he met with nearly two weeks ago to indicate he would be suspending contracts later that day.
The city expects to begin receiving funding from the congressional stimulus bill soon — as much as $160 million, according to earlier city projections — but Adams said it was unclear when it would arrive: “If there’s ever a time where the old saying, ‘show me the money,’ applies, it’s right now.”
He also said the city has signed off on grants allowing it to acquire more personal protective equipment for first responders. And the city will begin Thursday to focus on its economic and social recovery strategy, looking at the residual effects of surges in unemployment.