LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, takes heart from seeing business as usual at the city's construction sites which have kept on going throughout the shutdown.
She says its past time for the rest of Nevada's businesses to follow suit.
So what if that means gambling with human life?
"Every day you get up it’s a gamble," Goodman said. "Are you going to make it back home? All our people in law enforcement, do they know if they’re coming home? All our people in fire and rescue, do they know if they’re coming home? Do you know you won’t be hit by a car? Do you know that your elevator in which you’re riding won’t crash to the ground? You don’t know. It’s part of life!"
An empty Las Vegas Strip and boarded up businesses are killing Las Vegas, says Mayor Goodman. Maybe more so than the coronavirus. She believes reopening is worth the risk.
"In my opinion you have to go ahead. It’s a terrible, terrible thing we’re under because of the people we lose! We don’t want to lose anybody, but it’s part of life. And so I want people back to work."
The economy is on life support but has a shot at coming back. People who’ve lost their lives do not. Medical and scientific data predict a much higher loss of life without the severe restrictions we’re under.
Goodman drills down into the details. "Right now we have less than one half of one percent in fatalities. Any loss of life is tragic, but the reality is less than one half of one percent. We are going to take 3.3 million people and cut them off from earning a living?"
She says people are looking to her for salvation from economic starvation.
"It’s those faces. Every face I look into that’s panicked, that’s so full of fear and looking at the responsibility when you have children and family and elderly people. It’s so enormous and overbearing to the point of, I fear that we’re going to have deaths caused by people just throwing their hands up and saying I can’t handle this anymore."
The response to the coronavirus has been unprecedented and many health experts say necessary.
What Mayor Goodman says is not unprecedented is dealing with a pandemic.
"So many viruses have spread through humanity and we should learn from that. This is the first time we’ve ever shut down. The very first time in history that we’ve ever shut down."
With palpable fear and uncertainty about whether another wave of illness is imminent after re-opening the economy, Goodman acknowledges it will take innovation and creativity to bring business back and fill our casinos again.
"If we were to reopen and a whole bunch more people died because we all got back together, what would you say to someone who says, Mayor Goodman, would you accept the blood on your hands for that?" KTNV investigator Darcy Spears asked.
"Well, you know what I would say? The professionals and the physicians and the researchers can’t tell you that this isn’t going to last forever. They can’t tell you if it’s going to slow down in a month or four months or four years or reoccur. So do we stop living our lives because we have a challenge?" Goodman responded.
She believes people must be trusted to follow social distancing and handwashing guidelines while at the same time being able to make a living.
It's a stark contrast to Gov. Steve Sisolak's guidance which seems to be about saving lives at any cost.
"What we know is that our people are out of work!" said an impassioned Mayor Goodman. "They have no money to sustain their families. So it's best to move forward and start opening so we can have business here to sustain the state and the people that call this place home."
This story was originally published by Darcy Spears at KTNV.