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COVID, safe sex and Nevada’s legal brothel industry (Voices)

Suzette Colette Cole

Special to the NNBW

The Nevada Brothel Association PAC is a coalition of legal brothel owners, brothel workers, brothel clients and brothel supporters "dedicated to defending a woman’s right to choose professional sex work as a career, protecting the public’s health and safety, and preserving Nevada’s rich live-and-let-live heritage," according to the group's website.
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In a recent media interview, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak was asked about reopening the state’s legal brothels. Riley Snyder of The Nevada Independent reported that the governor “said it’s not on his radar.”

While re-opening Nevada’s legal brothels may not be on the governor’s radar, it’s certainly on the radar of over 600 employees and women who have lost their jobs and income; some of whom have been forced back into the illegal market where no safety precautions are followed or enforced.

The brothel shutdown not only hurts those who have lost their incomes, but also counties’ tax revenue, which includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and licenses yearly.

It’s also dried up donations from the brothels who are the biggest donors to various local charities that have historically been supported. In Lyon County alone just some of these are:

  • Animal parks
  • Food banks
  • Sheriff’s Ark Program
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Dayton High School
  • Toys for Tots

Continuing in his interview, Sisolak said: “I don’t know how you social distance in a brothel. I know that they advocate to me that they test for sexually transmitted disease. That’s different than testing for COVID and having people skin against skin. That’s why I have the problem with some of the contact sports.”

First, there are all manner of one-on-one personal service businesses that have been approved for re-opening in which there is little-to-no social distancing, including: massage therapists, dentists and hygienists, blood donation centers, plastic surgeons, makeup artists, tattoo/piercing parlors, waxing, facials and threading, hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, cosmetologists, tailors, medical spas, and tanning salons.

Secondly, according to multiple health professionals and organizations — including the National Institutes for Health and the Mayo Clinic — there has been no link found between sexual activity and the transmission of COVID.

Thirdly — again according to various health professionals, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), the World Health Organization and the Queensland Health Department — COVID is absolutely not transmitted “skin against skin.”

And furthermore: As attorney Deanna Forbush noted in recent testimony to Nevada’s COVID-19 task force, we’re not going to kill the virus by killing the economy. All businesses need to be reopened — with appropriate safety protocols in place.

Nevada’s legal brothels have submitted detailed safety measures that meet or exceed those in place for other in-person service businesses. And no data exists indicating the services provided by the brothels pose any higher risk of spreading COVID-19 than these other businesses.

Additionally, brothels do not engage in group activity. It is a one-to-one service. And while Sisolak has now approved gatherings of up to 250 people, not including employees, our protocols call for not more than 10 clients within our facility at a time.

The current government shutdown orders have created winners and losers and discriminate by applying different standards to similar industries.

All Nevada’s legal brothels are asking for is to be treated equally on a consistent, level playing field with everyone else.

Visit NevadaBrothelAssociation.com for a detailed list of COVID-19 protocols being implemented for Lyon County’s brothels.

Suzette Colette Cole is CEO of four legal brothels in Lyon County and president of the Nevada Brothel Association. This Voices column first published Oct. 21 in the Nevada Appeal, a sister publication of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.