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Vegas Workers Say They Don’t Want to Be 'an Experiment in a Petri Dish’

by Tim Wenger Apr 24, 2020

Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman called on Wednesday for the reopening of the city’s casinos and hotels. The industry is a massive economic driver and a big reason why more than 40 million visitors head to the Nevada desert each year. In an interview aired on CNBC, Goodman urged for hospitality workers to be allowed to return to work and for the city to begin its return to normalcy amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has shut much of the nation’s economy. “We have so many people out of work,” she said. “We’re a hospitality state; that’s our industry.”

The statements go against the advice of the medical community to limit non-essential travel. Multiple labor unions representing the city’s nearly 300,000 hospitality workers have spoken out against Goodman’s call to return to work. “Nobody wants people to go back more than I do, but everyone wants to go back to a safe and secure workplace and not be an experiment in a petri dish,” said UNITE Here president D. Taylor to NBC News.

One problem with Goodman’s plan is that she appeared to have forgotten about the pandemic itself. “People not coming there because they don’t feel comfortable, that won’t happen,” she said in the interview, referring to the fear of citizens around the world of catching the deadly virus. Her confidence in the interview gave the impression that a plan might in place to address concerns and allow safe access to these massive public spaces, but when asked about proper social distancing protocols, Goodman responded, “That’s up to them to figure out. I don’t own a casino.”

Shortly afterward, Goodman was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a now-viral segment and appeared unable to clearly explain or defend her position. Both her initial statements and the Anderson Cooper segment certainly didn’t instill confidence in the hospitality workers who would be asked to staff these casinos and hotels.

Taylor and hospitality workers aren’t alone in this concern. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak tweeted that the state is “working around the clock to ensure we are not only the most fun destination in the world, but the safest,” and that casinos and hotels would open when the time is right.

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