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Elected Officials Express Concern Over Goodman Virus Comments

(AP Photo/John Locher)

In this April 19, 2020, photo, a lone security guard watches over casinos shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak in Las Vegas. "For heaven's sake," said Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman at an April city council meeting, "being closed is killing us already, and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we have all worked so hard to build."

A member of Nevada’s COVID-19 task force and two members of city council said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was wrong to call for the immediate reopening of the city.

In a series of interviews last week, Goodman suggested Las Vegas could be a test case on how a community could reopen during the viral pandemic.

“We became the laughing stock of the country for the week. It’s been embarrassing,” said state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, a task force member. “What it did do is highlight the contrast in leadership from the mayor vs. what we’re hearing from our governor.”

Cancel said the state will follow medical protocols and reopen when it is safe to do so.

She said her constituents have called her to express concerns about getting enough food to eat, getting their unemployment checks and getting back to normal.

However, she said she has been inspired by how many people are willing to stay home for Nevada.

“What’s been really humbling and harrowing is the way people are committed to doing what needs to be done so that as our economy does start to reopen we do it in a safe and healthy way,” she said.

Las Vegas Councilman Brian Knudsen told KNPR's State of Nevada that a majority of constituents he has talked to agree with the state-at-home order.

However, he understands why people are frustrated and angry about the lockdown.

“I want our community to open up. I miss going to restaurants. I miss going out," he said, "There are so many wonderful things about Las Vegas that are closed down right now and it’s heartbreaking.”

Despite his sympathy towards those calling for an immediate end to the stay-at-home orders, he said from the research he's done the order needs to stay in place - for now.

“With the information that I have, the governor has made the right call and the county commission has made the right call and that’s why I stand behind them and will do everything I can to protect the health and well being of our community,” he said.

Knudson noted that he “loved the mayor” but disagreed with her on this issue, a point he also made in a recent opinion piece

Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman also supports opening the city - when the time is right. She said she believes the mayor had good intentions.

“Like everyone else, I want the city back in business as soon as safely possible," she said, "The mayor and her family have dedicated their lives to building and promoting the city of Las Vegas and I don’t believe her intention was to do anything to hurt it or its residents.”

Seaman does believe President Donald Trump's three stages of reopening is the plan Gov. Sisolak should be following.

“I don’t believe we should reopen until we have a clear and concise plan and it is safe,” she said.

The governor said he would consider reopening when there have been 14 days of declines in cases of coronavirus. 

But when the reopening does begin, business owners would like to see changes that will help them, including lower business license fees, a moratorium on parking fees downtown, and certification stickers that show businesses have been properly cleaned.

Knudson said ideas like those are great and he wants to hear more from business owners and workers about how to reopen.

“This is going to take an amazing amount of innovation to bring Las Vegas back and we want to do it just as much,” he said.

And as far as the state, Cancela said when the Legislature gets back in session in 2021 she wants to hear from everyone impacted by the virus and lockdown so the state can shape a response.

“We do have an opportunity when we go back to session to look at ways to make doing business easier under our new reality,” Cancela said.

She said the silver lining could be that Nevada has a chance to make changes to the old way of doing things on its way to improved "new normal."

Sen. Yvanna Cancela, member, COVID-19 Task Force, Victoria Seaman,  Las Vegas councilwoman, Ward 2; Brian Knudsen, Las Vegas councilman, Ward 1

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.