News from Las Vegas: Social distancing could continue until 2021 in Nevada

It has been weeks since the pandemic calmed the world’s playground, drowning out the symphony of alcoholic conversations, car horns and slot machine chimes that once filled the Las Vegas Strip.

Now solo joggers gasp past locked doors, skateboarders slam on empty sidewalks, and cars drive through desolate intersections. You can hear the birds singing.

There is no magic way to revive the heart of Nevada’s tourist economy. Even if the closure is lifted and resorts are given the green light to welcome guests, “The idea that everything reopens at the same time is absolutely not going to happen,” said Alan Feldman, Distinguished Fellow of the International Gaming Institute from UNLV, to the Las Vegas Review. Newspaper.

And even if it did, industry leaders don’t count on a flood of guests flocking to Las Vegas right now, or in the weeks or months to come.

Harvard School researchers public health modeling this week suggested “prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be needed until 2022” to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I think all Nevadans need to realize that it’s going to take a long time to get back to what we had at the start of this year – this ‘normal’,” Feldman said.

Steps to reopen

Nothing will reopen without the approval of public health and state officials, and experts say that won’t happen unless Nevada sees a constant slowdown in cases, coupled with widespread testing and the confidence that hospitals have the space and resources to manage ongoing treatment.

At a press conference Thursday, Governor Steve Sisolak praised the Nevadans for largely complying with the state’s stay-at-home order. He also said he was determined to see Nevada’s economy rebound quickly.

“As soon as we finalize our state-specific reopening plan, I’ll be there to tell you exactly how we’re going to proceed,” he said.

Experts say the plan may involve new regulations, designed to ensure appropriate physical distancing in any reopened schools or businesses, including casino floors.

Ahead of the governor’s press conference, President Donald Trump on Thursday presented governors with a new three-phase approach to reopen the country. The White House also this week called on a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., To discuss how and when to revive the country’s economy.

“Nevada is one of the states whose economy has been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis,” Rosen said in a statement. “We need to work together, not only to overcome the pandemic, but to plan for the future. “

In Europe – and even in Italy, its coronavirus epicenter – countries started to reopen businesses, schools and sports centers this week, testing whether it is possible to break their waiting patterns without triggering a second wave.

But in California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti doubled down in the opposite direction, predicting on a conference call with high-level staff this week that the city could ban large gatherings like concerts, sporting events. or agreements for at least one year, depending on the Los Angeles Times.

For comparison, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman at a city council meeting on Wednesday called the state’s ongoing non-essential business shutdowns “utter insanity,” adding that “the shutdown we already kill ”.

When asked Thursday if she would consider a similar ban on large gatherings in Las Vegas, which does not include the Clark County resort corridor, Goodman told the Review-Journal: “No, no, no, no , no.”

“When I heard that, I thought, ‘Who do I call to get all these agreements? “Goodman said.” We’ll get them all here. “

But it’s not that simple, experts say.

Lessons from the influenza pandemic

Take the influenza pandemic of 1918, for example. Las Vegas was a railroad and mining town of 2,000 at the time, but it was not spared. Forty people died and the Nevada State Board of Health at the time recorded at least 4,000 cases.

As a precaution, Las Vegas banned public gatherings and ordered schools and businesses closed between October and December of the same year. New orders required people to wear face masks in public.

But even in 1918, there was pressure to reopen, according to Peter Michel, director of special collections and library archives at UNLV.

“Everyone thought it was over because all the numbers had gone down, and gone down, so people immediately thought it was over,” said Michel.

Before Christmas, local authorities bowed to the pressure. Schools have welcomed students again and churches have opened for worship.

“And what you’ve seen are sporadic outbreaks,” he said, triggering a second shutdown.

This lasted at least until February, when the flu in Las Vegas really started to ease.

“Now you see similar things – people who resist, people who challenge; pressure to reopen, pressure to return to normal, ”said Michel. “And the lesson from 1918 is that you don’t want to do it too soon. He may be asleep, but he will come back.

No sprint forward

With an economy like Las Vegas’, there is no sprinting forward, said Marta Soligo, a doctoral student at UNLV who studies the effects of COVID-19 on tourism.

“Tourism is really a system,” Soligo said. “When we talk about tourism, we are not just talking about hotels or museums. We are talking about transport, other industries. There is a kind of interdependence of subjects.

At this point, there’s no way of knowing how long it will take to regain a sense of normalcy, Soligo said. This is because Las Vegas is still in “phase 1” of its combined health, financial and social crisis.

“When we get to Phase 2, I think the staging of the openings will be key,” she said. “The risk is going back to phase 1 if you don’t manage it well. “

Feldman, of the International Gaming Institute, said this seems to be the understanding between the gaming giants.

“If they have multiple properties, they won’t open them all at the same time,” Feldman said. “There just won’t be any business to do it.”

The openings within each individual property are also likely to be staggered: fast food restaurants before buffets; slot machines spaced out before traditional table games.

Exhibition halls and arenas could come later. The National Hockey League season is currently on an indefinite hiatus, so the Golden Knights shouldn’t be playing anytime soon.

And convention centers, which require massive bookings, are probably far away.

“It’s a multidimensional chess game at its best,” he said.

Mental health effects

On a personal level, this means that thousands of people could be left out of work, struggling with bills for an indefinite period of time.

That, combined with being stuck inside with little to no social contact, can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Steven Hayes, professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The longer it lasts, the more these struggles can develop, which can lead to sleeplessness, fear, irritability, poor concentration and detachment from others, said Hayes.

Information helps. People need consistent, accurate, and understandable information on how long this is going to last, why, and what to do, he said.

Maintaining a healthy schedule helps. Hayes suggested establishing a routine that includes exercise, personal grooming, work (if possible), housework, play time with the kids, and phone calls or video calls with loved ones.

“Now is not the time to be on the couch 24/7,” Hayes said.

Finding a personal, values-based reason why you are walking away also helps. For example, it’s far better to socialize to protect the health of others than to distance yourself because you “have to do it,” said Hayes.

Adequate supplies help. It’s hard enough to distance yourself for weeks or months. Doing it while worrying about what you have on hand and what you are running out of is much more difficult.

Part of that a person can do, but part of it, Hayes said, depends on friends, family, charities, or the government. Work together to make sure people in your network have what they need, he advised.

Psychological flexibility also helps. People go through crises better mentally if they develop greater emotional and cognitive openness, or “mindfulness,” and learn to focus in the present moment and let go of “the little things,” said Hayes.

“Decreased psychological flexibility is a scientifically established predictor of long-term trauma and mental health problems following crises such as devastating storms, school shootings, violent crime or sexual abuse,” he said. -he declares.

Parents’ level of psychological flexibility can also predict whether children will be traumatized.

“Remember, a selfless reason to get it right is for our kids to watch and learn,” said Hayes.

Contact Rachel Crosby at [email protected] or 702-477-3801. To follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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