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Las Vegas Mayor Faces Backlash for Offering City as Control Group

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  • In an interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she wants the city to reopen early, offering up her constituents as a control group to test the effects of lifting lockdown orders.
  • Goodman said she doesn’t have a plan for how businesses should safely operate and that it’s up to them to figure that out.
  • She also said any business found to be spreading the coronavirus would eventually be destroyed by market competition.
  • Her comments drew the ire of city and state officials, including Governor Steve Sisolak who assured Nevadans that no one would be used as a control.

Goodman Say Competition Will Kill Businesses Spreading COVID-19

Offering up constituents to be a placebo group for the coronavirus hasn’t been an option for most mayors across the United States, but Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman admitted to having explored the idea.

In fact, Goodman said as much in a Wednesday interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. In that interview, now largely derided and ridiculed for Goodman’s startling responses, the mayor said she backed off from the idea after a statistician told her the plan wouldn’t work. The statistician reminded her that Las Vegas is a major travel destination and that people frequently enter and leave it. 

“I said, ‘Oh that’s too bad,’ because I know when you have a disease, you have a placebo that gets the water and the sugar and then you get those that actually get the shot. We would love to be that placebo,” Goodman said. 

Earlier in the interview, Goodman told Cooper that he was being alarmist when he pressed her about previous comments she made about wanting to reopen Las Vegas. 

“But you’re encouraging, I mean, hundreds of thousands of people coming there in casinos, smoking, drinking, touching slot machines, breathing circulated air, and then, returning home to states around America and countries around the world,” Cooper said. “Doesn’t that sound like a virus petri dish? I mean, how is that safe?”

“No,” Goodman said, “it sounds like you’re being an alarmist. I’m not. I’ve lived a long life. I grew up in the heart of Manhattan. I know what it’s like to be with subways and on buses and crammed into elevators.”

I’m being alarmist?” Cooper said. 

“I think you are by saying what you have just said,” she replied. 

Cooper then continued to press Goodman by asking her how she would regulate social distancing in public areas like casinos, to which she replied, “That’s up to them to figure out. I don’t own a casino.

“I am not a private owner,” she went on to say. “That’s the competition in this country. The free enterprise and to be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public. Right now, we’re in a crisis health wise, and so for a restaurant to be open or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That’s their job.”

When Cooper pressed her on this, asking her if she was saying that competition would weed out businesses spreading the coronavirus, the conversation became very circular. She then accused Cooper of trying to get her to slip up.

However, one of the key takeaways from that exchange was actually something she said on Tuesday with Katy Tur on MSNBC.

“And let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down,” Goodman said. “It’s that simple.” 

In her CNN interview, Cooper read back that quote to Goodman, telling her that health officials wouldn’t really know if a business becomes an epicenter until weeks after it has already happened.

Cooper Becomes Increasingly Fed Up With Goodman

As the interview stretched on, Cooper became increasingly more exasperated with his guest. At one point, while speaking about Dr. Anthony Fauci, she snapped at him for trying to interrupt. Notably, though, Cooper said, “I’m not interrupting you. I’m listening to you.”

“Okay, thank you. Maybe it’s breathing. I’m sorry. I’m being silly here,” Goodman replied, then unaware that her interview would soon go viral and that she would be called much more than silly. 

Later in the interview, Goodman compared the state’s response to the coronavirus to atomic bomb testing during the cold war era. 

“We’re not getting the truth,” she said, “and I know over the years, going back to the 1950s with the atomic bomb, ‘Don’t worry about more testing in Nevada. You’ll all be fine. Take a shower.’” 

“You’re the one saying you’ll all be fine,” Cooper said before being interrupted. 

“No, no, no,” Goodman said. “You’re putting words in my mouth. I said open up Las Vegas.” 

In another spar between the two, Cooper showed Goodman the layout of a restaurant in China, but Goodman then hit back by saying, “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada.”

“Wow, okay, that’s really ignorant,” Cooper said. “That’s an ignorant, ignorant statement. That’s a restaurant, and yes it’s in China, but they are human beings too.” 

At one point, a little over halfway into the interview, Cooper takes off his glasses and wipes his face as Goodman is talking. About a minute later, he tells her, “I mean, you’re offering nothing other than being a cheerleader, which I guess is part what of your job is and I respect that, and you seem like a very nice person, but I don’t understand. Do you not have any sense of responsibility?” 

Vegas Mayor Overwhelmingly Blasted for Interview Comments

After that interview, an overwhelming amount of ridicule was directed at Goodman, with many saying she was unfit for office.

“Anderson Cooper may have just ended her career,” professional poker player Daniel Negreanu said. “I couldn’t imagine a public official coming off worse in an interview. There should be a mercy rule.”

Later Wednesday evening, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak responded to Goodman’s comments in a different interview with Cooper, saying that he won’t let people in Nevada be used as a placebo group.

“We are clearly not ready to open,” he also said. “Sadly, since you did that interview, we now have 187 deaths in the state of Nevada.” 

In that interview, Sisolak also noted the number of people infected in the state has climbed to 4,100.

Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen said that reopening is “reckless and completely contrary to the overwhelming consensus of medical experts.” 

The Culinary Workers Union—which is the largest union in the state—called her comments “outrageous” and said that 11 of its members have died from COVID-19.

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Vegas, called for Goodman to resign. Kimm took to Twitter to call her an embarrassment to his hometown. 

Notably, even though Goodman said she wants to greenlight casino openings “immediately,” she is unable to do so because Sisolak has put the state on mandatory lockdown and closed all businesses.

Regarding the Las Vegas Strip, even without that lockdown, she doesn’t have any power at all over it.  It’s actually located in an unincorporated part of the county outside of her jurisdiction. 

Still, there are many casinos within city limits, and she will likely try to open them as soon as she has the authority to do so.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The New York Times) (NBC News)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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