‘We’re Not Test Subjects, We’re People’: LV Workers Respond to Mayor’s Call to Reopen City

Las Vegas Strip, Cars Driving Down Las Vegas BoulevardSince Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated the initial statewide shutdown of casinos back in early March, and further went on to extend the shutdown to April 30, Mayor Carolyn Goodman has been trying to fight it and get the city reopened this entire time.

After Sisolak’s latest press conference detailing Nevada’s plan for a phased reopening, Goodman fired back yet again, calling for a swift reopening of hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.

Goodman’s argument has been that industry workers will not be able to survive a shutdown and that it will impact their livelihoods on too grand of a scale.

While Goodman has argued against the closures, she hasn’t provided any reopening guidelines of safety measures that would stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, and Las Vegas workers are not feeling protected or considered by the Mayor’s adamant calls to reopen.

The most troubling comments made by Mayor Goodman surfaced in her Wednesday CNN interview with Anderson Cooper. Goodman said she would be willing to lift the coronavirus lockdown in Las Vegas and have the city serve as a “national experiment.”

Goodman said that she would love for Las Vegas to be the “placebo side” so Anderson and essentially the rest of the country had something to “measure against.”

This, of course, sparked outrage among Las Vegas industry workers.

Casino Workers Fire Back

Industry workers across the valley, those who work in the casinos and nightlife, say they would not be happy to be used as an experiment in how lifting lockdown measures would look like, despite the Mayor’s claim the Las Vegas would be happy to serve as the guinea pig.

In the Anderson Cooper interview, she referred to Las Vegas workers as a “control group” to be offered up to prove a point against Anderson’s argument that social distancing helped to keep Las Vegas number of COVID-19 relatively low compared to what they could have been had the shutdown not happen.

Taylor, the president of UNITE Here, a union that represents hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers throughout the US, called Goodman’s comments one of the “worst things” he’s even heard.

Taylor expressed that while he’s been eager to get back to work as soon as everyone is able to, people want to get back to a workspace that is “safe and secure,” and not be test subjects in a petri dish experiment.

Goodman’s comments also “struck a nerve” with banquet bartenders working with the Caesar Forum Conference Center. One bartender, Alexander Acosta, said:

“We’re not test subjects. We’re people. We are employees. We try to live every day as we can. We shouldn’t be test subjects.”

SEIU Local 1107, a union representing 9,000 healthcare workers in Nevada, was also offended by Goodman’s comments and offered some criticism. A spokesperson for the union said Goodman appeared to treat city workers like “guinea pigs.”

According to the SEIU spokesperson, the suggestion to endanger more lives by treating Las Vegas “like a guinea pig in some wild experiment” exhibits an extreme level of ignorance toward the COVID-19 situation as a whole.

Goodman Offered No Solutions for Casino Measurements

In the CNN interview, Anderson Cooper pointed out the fact that while Mayor Goodman has been a “cheerleader” for the reopening Nevada movement, she’s not actually put any suggestions or measured into place for how casinos will operate once they reopen.

Goodman’s response to Anderson’s claim was that it’s up to the casinos to figure out what precautions and measures they will need to put into place, adding that she doesn’t own a casino.

It’s important for casinos to come up with the right reopening measures because it will allow both workers and guests to feel comfortable returned once the shutdown is lifted.

According to Gov. Sisolak, Las Vegas will open when the time is right. Adding that he and his team have been working around the clock to make sure that Las Vegas isn’t just the world’s most fun destination, but the safest at that.

Wynn Resorts and other casino executives recently detailed their reopening plans and what measures they would likely implement.

Those measures include thermal screenings of guests, that will show if their body temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and social distancing of guests and gamblers, among other measures.

Social Distancing has helped ‘Flatten the Curve’ in Nevada

Speaking of social distancing, the Governor praised Nevadans at his Tuesday press conference for following through on the stay-at-home directive, telling Nevadans that they’ve saved lives.

Currently, Nevada has 4,081 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 172 COVID-19-related deaths.

The Governor and his team of experts explained that if they had not taken the aggressive action to close casinos and nonessential businesses statewide, that the number of coronavirus cases could have been in the tens of thousands.

According to the Governor, Nevada is currently in Phase Zero of its two-phase plan to reopen. Phase Zero will measure the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and people testing positive over a 14-day period to ensure that there is a steady decline before we can move to Phase One.

Casinos Workers Detail What Would Make Them Feel Safe Upon Returning to Work

Some casino workers, like Dee Kenny, a 64-year-old casino security guard who works on the Las Vegas Strip, said that if proper protocols aren’t put into place, she won’t be returning to work until they are.

Kenny, who has underlying health issues and is among the most vulnerable population to the virus, says she wants her employers to provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) and test employees for the virus.

Acosta, the bartender with Caesars, also worries whether he and his colleagues will be provided with the necessary equipment to do their jobs safely. For his specific position, he would need gloves and a mask since he’s in close interaction with guests.

Stay Tuned

It’s been a whirlwind for the Las Vegas Strip and economy over these last six weeks. However, it looks like we’re moving to higher ground with the rate of cases seemingly declining, as well as the healthcare industry being able to handle the number of patients going in and out of their facilities.

Did you catch Mayor Goodman’s CNN Interview? What did you think of the comments she had to make about reopening Nevada? If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it, you can watch it in its entirety below.

What types of safety measures do you think the Strip casinos should put into place when they’re given the green light to open back up?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a line in the comments below!

As always, stay safe and healthy out there.