(The following is a transcript of testimony delivered by Lance Gilman to members of Nevada’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force on October 8, 2020)
Undoubtedly, we are in unprecedented times that have required difficult decisions and challenging choices. We have and do respect the leadership put forth by this task force, the LEAP Committee and Governor Sisolak and his office.
As such, Storey County, its leadership and management team, its businesses and its citizens have implemented the regulations and suggestions that have been put forth by the state to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and we are proud of the results.
To date, Storey County has had only six cases of COVID-19, all of which have been treated and have recovered.
With that in mind, I implore you to allow Storey County the ability to reopen all of its businesses and fully begin the long recovery from the significant economic damage of this pandemic and its ensuing shutdown.
Specifically, I am asking that you allow the county the ability to reopen the Mustang Ranch, a longstanding economic driver and community steward for our county.
Since the beginning of the shutdown, our state’s leadership has repeatedly reiterated the criteria for reopening businesses in our state.
It has been stressed by the Governor and this task force that decisions on reopening businesses would be made first and foremost on data and the likelihood of getting infected or spreading the COVID-19 virus in a business and/or municipality.
It has been stressed that the data and not the industry or business would be the driving force for closing or keeping a business closed. It has also been emphasized that, for a business to reopen, a sufficient and adequate mitigation and enforcement plan would be needed.
In short, the goal of the shutdown and subsequent reopening was to avoid picking winners and losers but, rather, to minimize the risks of community spread and the burden on our healthcare system.
With those as the guiding philosophies for our state’s COVID-19 response, I am formally requesting Storey County’s ability to reopen the Mustang Ranch.
Working in coordination with healthcare professionals, Storey County leadership, the Storey County Sheriff and law enforcement, Mustang Ranch has developed a significant mitigation and enforcement plan designed to address COVID-19.
This plan has been shared with the Governor’s office, the LEAP Committee, the COVID-19 Task Force, the state’s medical leadership and others and, by all accounts, is sufficient and adequate.
We have received no feedback on why this business continues to remain closed. It is not a business that encourages congregation or large crowds and the proposed mitigation plan further mandates that there will be no crowds or groups at any time at the business.
To date, the state has reopened massage parlors, health spas, martial arts studios, dental offices and a variety of other businesses that involve close contact and one-on-one physical interactions.
Furthermore, there is no data that the services provided at Mustang Ranch are at any higher risk of spreading COVID-19 than any of these other businesses and industries.
Mustang Ranch is a longstanding community steward for Storey County, doing everything from significantly supporting underprivileged schoolchildren and after school programs to providing meals on a regular basis for seniors on fixed incomes and in challenging situations.
In fact, Mustang Ranch has continued to provide significant monetary support to a number of community-based programs during this health and economic crisis.
Additionally, the closure of Mustang Ranch has had dire impacts on the employees and women that work there, forcing them and their families into critical financial circumstances.
For many years, the Mustang Ranch was the only significant economic driver in Storey County, paving the way for our county and region to become the economic development beacon it is now.
The Ranch has been a constant for our community through times of prosperity and adversity, alike. We can identify no reason that the Ranch should remain closed, based on all of the above reasons and the state’s commitment to data-based decisions, not arbitrarily picking winners and losers.
I again implore this task force to immediately give Storey County the ability to open the Mustang Ranch in a safe and healthy manner.
Mr. Gilman is the owner of the Mustang Ranch brothel in Storey County, Nevada