Anderson Cooper had an extended interview on Wednesday with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who is calling for casinos, hotels and restaurants to reopen in the city given the wrenching loss of jobs and revenue.
The CNN anchor, however, had a lot of questions over just how wise such a move would be at this moment and how it would work.
At one point, Cooper showed a report from Chinese researchers that outlined how the virus spread in a restaurant.
“This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada,” she interjected.
“Wow, that’s really ignorant,” he said.
“That’s ignorant to say?” she asked.
The interview went on for about 15 minutes, with Goodman defending her calls for reopenings but also arguing that it is not up to her to determine how businesses that do return practice social distancing.
Cooper asked her about the risks of reopening public spaces like casinos where people will be in close quarters but also traveling to and from the city.
He asked, “Doesn’t that sound like a virus Petri dish? How is that safe?”
“It sounds like you are being alarmist,” she replied. “I am not. I have lived a long life.”.
Then Cooper asked her, “So you don’t believe there should be social distancing?”
“Of course,” she asked.
He then queried her on how that would be done in a casino.
“That is up to them to figure out,” Goodman said. “I don’t own a casino. I don’t know anything about building a casino.”
She later added: “I am not a private owner. That is the competition in this country. The free enterprise will be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public.”
And on it went. At one point during the interview, Cooper took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
Goodman has previously talked extensively about why she thinks the continued shutdown is “insanity.”
Fox5 in Las Vegas reported that she said at a City Council meeting last week: “We cannot keep our heads in the sand and think it’s going to go away. We are adults with brains, who can know what to do, to wash our hands, to take all precautions not to spread this disease. But we can not put our heads in the sand and think it’s going to go away.”
In her interview with Cooper, Goodman argued that with the shutdown of the city, “so many families who can’t even afford to get the groceries for their family because they have been out of work for six weeks.”
But she also seemed to suggest that the city had survived previous outbreaks without the need for closures.
“I’d love everything open because we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” she said.
Later, after she noted that the Las Vegas metro area has had 150 deaths out of a population of 2.3 million, she said, “You have to say, ‘You have to open up. You have to go back.”
“But hasn’t it been because of social distancing that the numbers have been what they are?” Cooper asked.
She responded, “How do you know until we have a control group. We offered to be a control group.”
She later clarified that she offered to “be a control group and I was told by our statistician said you can’t do that because people from all parts of southern Nevada come in to work in this city.”
It’d be hard to label the interview as acrimonious, as Goodman actually had words of praise for Cooper, and at certain points their conversation took on the tone of cocktail party chit chat.
“You’re a very good interviewer,” she said at one point. “I have watched you for years, and you are wonderful. And I’m not going down that road. I am sticking for what I am asking for.”
Later, Cooper said on CNN that Goodman’s comments were a “surprise. It was not how I expected the interview to go.”
He said that Goodman actually “has no authority over casinos and what happens on the Strip. But she takes no responsibility. I was surprised I guess that she’s not really working on testing or contact tracing or doing anything it seems like other mayors are to try to ramp up the availability of testing.”
Goodman’s view of the coronavirus restrictions are a contrast to those of Clark County, NV, which on Tuesday tweeted out a warning about potential fines “of up to $1,000 per day per violation” for businesses that violate closure orders:
Jimmy Kimmel, a native of the city, tweeted about the interview afterward.
Her wrote, “Dear Las Vegas. It would appear that your mayor Carolyn Goodman is dangerously misguided. I am not easily shocked anymore, but the interview she is doing with @andersoncooper @cnn right now is bonkers.”