Everyone hates everything about this, and wants it to end as soon as possible.
That includes Carolyn Goodman.
Unfortunately, she’s defeating her own purpose.
Wednesday at a City Council meeting, the Las Vegas Mayor called on the governor to rethink the decision announced Tuesday to close down casinos, bars and other “nonessential” businesses for 30 days, and instead limit it to “the immediate week or two.”
Following Goodman’s recommendation would be, to put it charitably, counterproductive.
The more quickly the number of cases start to drop, the more quickly the economy can begin to restart in earnest.
Even with the shutdowns of schools and businesses in Nevada, the state might be lucky if the number of cases is dropping in 30 days.
China aggressively locked itself down in late January. Two months later, the number of cases are declining, and the country is starting to return to normal, or something like it. Donald Trump, who up until the last few days sounded every bit as perceptive as Goodman did Wednesday, suggested early this week the coronavirus crisis could last until July or August. But some experts are looking at the China example and hoping aggressive measures in the U.S. will mean an abatement of the crisis in early May.
Other experts caution that thanks to the wholesale failure to establish testing in a timely manner in the U.S., it’s impossible to know right now when the outbreak will peak, which in turn makes it difficult to predict when it will be safe for people to start gathering again.
If closing schools, businesses and staying home is going to work in Nevada, and if closures are going to end sooner rather than later, Nevadans are going to have to buy into the effort. They’re going to have to acknowledge the urgency of the crisis.
The last thing Nevadans need to hear right now is a woefully uninformed public official making specious public comments that can diminish the willingness of Nevadans to work together to get through the crisis.
The last thing Nevadans need to hear right now is the mayor of Las Vegas inventorying prior outbreaks, from the West Nile Virus to the swine flu to the Zeka virus, “and every year also, the general flu,” then snarkily concluding as she did Wednesday, “and believe it or not, we’re still here.”
When everyone hates everything about this, and wants it to end as soon as possible, a semi-prominent public official with a locally famous last name should not be offering everyone a logical fallacy that effectively encourages people to dismiss the severity of the situation.
It is all too easy to imagine people saying something along the lines of “Like the mayor said, we’ve had all those other flus, and we survived those. Why are we shutting down the whole economy.”
Instead of undermining Nevada’s battle against the coronavirus, Goodman needs to reverse course, and start helping the governor make the case for why it is so crucial that Nevadans work together.
When Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the business closures Tuesday night, he cited the new study from the Imperial College of the United Kingdom, which is widely credited for sharpening government focus on the coronavirus threat in both the U.K. and the U.S.
Sisolak noted the study found the doubling rate for the virus could be as little as four to five days, adding “That spread is alarming.”
Also alarming is the study’s projection that the virus could result in up to 2.2 million deaths in the U.S.
And here’s a passage from the Imperial College report that may interest Goodman in particular.
“We predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound.”
In other words, the less aggressively we fighting the crisis now, the longer and harder the toll — on health, lives, and the economy.
Everyone understands — everyone shares — Goodman’s frustration at seeing hardships inflicted on working Nevadans.
But if she wants to see all this end sooner rather than later, she should snap out of it.