GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee rips Sisolak for his handling of pandemic; Lee adds he caught Covid, recovered and declined vaccination

By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a Republican candidate for governor in 2022, was critical of current Gov. Steve Sisolak for his handling of the pandemic last year, saying on Nevada Newsmakers that he would not have shut down all of Nevada’s 17 counties nor would he have shut down Nevada’s gaming industry for three months.

Lee told host Sam Shad that he would have let local elected leaders of Nevada’s 15 rural counties make the decision about shutting down.

“In the first wave of the decision, I would not have shut down all 17 counties,” Lee said. “I recognize that Washoe and Clark are counties that a lot of people come into. In the rurals, unless you are having a family vacation or reunion, you’re not really having a lot of people coming into your communities. I would not have shut down those other 15 counties.”


Lee said he would have allowed local governments in rural counties to make any decision about shutting down because, “their economies are not as resilient as ours,” referring to Nevada’s two urban counties, Washoe and Clark.

Sisolak’s communications with the state could have been better, Lee said.

“The second thing probably, I would have communicated a whole better way with the state of Nevada, with the local officials, the government leaders, the business leaders,” Lee said. “I think too much of it was done by a small group of people who were not very knowledgeable about what they are doing and they didn’t bring people in to get consensus that this was a good idea and everybody agrees to join in and what are we going to do to protect Nevada. None of that took place. I think our governor spent a lot of time talking to the other governors and maybe Washington D.C.”

Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.

As a mayor of a leading Nevada city, Lee said he felt left out of Sisolak’s plans.

“I am the mayor of the third largest city in the state and I never got a phone call (from Sisolak), I watched TV just like you did,” he said.

“Someone would text me or call me and say, ‘Hey, the governor just came out with another edict or the governor just did this,” Lee said.

“Now, he was probably calling someone at the county commission or something like that but when it came to the cities, there was nothing there. Maybe being a former county commissioner, maybe he thinks that’s where the power of the community is, I don’t know.

“But I can tell you right now, we were never in the loop about understanding what he was doing. I always felt like these Draconian measures were being forced upon us without any involvement in the decision making,” Lee said.

Lee also said on he caught the Covid-19 virus last year, has recovered and has no plan to get vaccinated.

“I just have not had the desire to get the shot and I just have not done it yet,” he said.

Lee, a cancer survivor, was hesitant when asked if he would recommend all Nevada citizens get vaccinated.

“I would say to them, if you feel you want to get vaccinated and you feel secure and it is right for you, go do it,” Lee said. “If you want to wait a little longer or you don’t want to do it …. even if I told everybody to do it, I can’t force anybody to do it. But I just want to leave it upon individuals to make those decisions themselves.”

Lee said he believes he has built up an immunity to the virus.

“I got Covid. I was very blessed. For three days, I was just extremely tired. And so, I got Covid, I did the 14 days (of quarantine). I did everything you were supposed to do.

“I have other friends who were in the healing arts and they were telling me, ‘John you probably have 11 months of antibodies, or whatever you call it, in your body that is just going to stave it off,’ ” Lee said. “And so I believe that and I trust that. And the other thing, the FDA hasn’t approved it yet, I hear at the end of this month they might approve it.”

The interview with Lee was done before the the U.S Food & Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week. Previously, it had given emergency approval for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“I want people to make their own decisions,” Lee said. “I don’t want the government to tell them what to put in their body, so when that time comes and the FDA does what it does, and in a period of time when we get rid of three (of the brand-name vaccines) and say this (remaining brand of the vaccine) is the one that you should really put in your body. This (other) one wasn’t good. This (other) one has side effects, then I’ll take a look at it. But as it sits right now, I feel very confident that I have the antibodies, or whatever is in your body, it stave it off.”

Lee said his daughter experienced a bad reaction after she was injected with the Johnson & Johnson brand of the vaccine.

“I have a daughter who went and took the Johnson & Johnson shot, a healthy girl,” Lee said. “And all of a sudden her heart started palpitating and we had to run her down to the hospital. We didn’t know what was wrong, a heart issue, you know. It was the virus that they put into you that affected her heart.”

The coronavirus is not in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to published reports by University of Missouri Health Care. However, scientists behind the Johnson & Johnson vaccine added the gene for the coronavirus’ signature spike protein to an adenovirus, a common virus that causes colds or flu-like symptoms.

Lee, a longtime Democrat who switched party affiliation earlier this year, said he has no issue with businesses that mandate that their employees get the vaccine. He also had no issue with conventions in Las Vegas and Reno requiring proof of vaccinations for attendees. Recently, the Consumer Technology Association announced it will require proof of vaccination to attend the 2022 CES convention in Las Vegas.

“If the company wants to say that, as part of the prerequisite to join their company, I get it,” Lee said. “That’s their responsibly as they feel the need to protect their business and their interests and the people who work for them. I have no problem at all. But it does allow somebody to make the decision about: Do I want to go to work, or do I feel this is an infringement of my personal rights? They have to make that decision, too.”

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