Jacky Rosen Admits COVID Lockdowns She Pushed Hurt Nevada's Economy

May 9, 2024

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.) was a leading proponent of lockdown policies during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, she laments that those same policies led to her state experiencing the highest unemployment rates in the country.

"During COVID we experienced some of the highest unemployment in the country," Rosen said during a May 2 appearance on MSNBC’s "The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell."

"We had to close down the famous Las Vegas Strip because we did not want to see more people spread COVID all across this country."

Rosen lent her full support to former Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D.) in March 2020 when he signed lockdown orders that devastated Las Vegas’s leisure and hospitality industries. Those policies led Nevada to a staggering 28.2 percent unemployment rate by May 2020. Nevada is still reeling from those policies, leading the nation with a 5.3 percent unemployment rate as of March.

Rosen’s support of Sisolak’s lockdown policies could come back to haunt her as she seeks a second Senate term in what could be one of the closest contests in the November elections. Sisolak lost his reelection bid in 2022 to Republican challenger Joe Lombardo, who campaigned aggressively against Sisolak’s lockdown policies.

Rosen said she was "grateful" for Sisolak in a Facebook post one week after he moved to close "non-essential businesses" and schools in March 2020. She opposed loosening those restrictions when she was appointed to the White House Task Force on re-opening the economy in April 2020.

"‘In order to successfully chart our path forward, we need to effectively increase our nation’s testing capability for both acute cases and immune response, expand and improve contact tracing, and provide much-needed medical supplies to health care workers and our medical institutions," Rosen said. "Any plans to re-open states must comply with guidance from medical experts and state and local government officials."

The Nevada senator reiterated her support for Sisolak’s pandemic policies in February 2022, saying again she was "grateful" for his leadership throughout the crisis.

Nevada was hardly the only state to institute lockdowns during early stages of the pandemic. But studies have shown that states like Nevada that instituted more aggressive lockdown policies suffered worse health, education, and economic outcomes.

The Committee to Unleash Prosperity released a study in 2022 that found that states like Utah, South Dakota, and Florida, which "maximized the individual freedoms of business owners" and "allowed their citizens to make their own risk assessments without government mandates … had the best performance."

The study also found that Nevada had among the highest rates of COVID-associated deaths when adjusting data to account for the state’s higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

The Rosen campaign did not return a request for comment.