We cannot "reopen" America

Getting on an airplane to fly to a city so that you can stay in a hotel, eat in crowded dining rooms, and stand elbow-to-elbow with strangers around a craps table will be far, far down the list of behaviors on which most people are open to taking a risk.

Which means that the 28th-largest city in America is going to hollow out.

If the tourism industry were to only decline by 30 percent in Las Vegas, it would be an utter catastrophe. No tourists means no work for maids, taxi drivers, cooks, dealers, waiters, and the tens of thousands of jobs that make up the invisible, back-of-the-house operations in hospitality.

No jobs for the people in hospitality means a shockwave to the local economy: The retail and service sectors will be crunched. Real estate values will implode. The strain on social services will be gigantic.

The central fact to be grasped here is that “reopening” the economy is a largely a formality until there is a vaccine. Because only then will people modify their behavior to something approximating pre-pandemic levels.