Las Vegans have collectively come to terms with the pandemic that has swept through their lives the past two months.
Loss of employment, threatened livelihoods and fear for personal health have been some of the biggest effects of COVID-19 in the Las Vegas Valley.
As communities cope with the quarantine fallout, many residents find themselves isolated with loved ones, but also yearning to return to time spent with family and friends who can’t be with them.
Even sheltering indoors, people still have stories to share. The photographs in this essay reveal snippets of how Las Vegans and their families have been affected by the shutdown — and confinement in their homes.
Photographed through windows and doorways while maintaining social distance, the reporting was done with safety in mind.
It was cool the first week-ish…just because you got to be with your family, play board games, watch movies
Yayre Ramirez, North Las Vegas: April 1, 2020
Yayre Ramirez is a senior at Rancho High School. Ramirez’s routine since school closed is to wake up, clean, do homework, clean some more, talk to her sister who is in the military in South Korea on the phone, then relax before bed. Ramirez is disappointed that the end of her high school career is essentially canceled — including prom, her final mariachi performances and graduation.
I really didn’t take it too seriously. The people at my church didn’t take it too seriously
Bob and Johnnie Cooper, Las Vegas: March 26, 2020
Bob has been self-isolating since the middle of January, and Johnnie has been in their house for weeks to protect themselves from COVID-19. Bob has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Johnnie has multiple sclerosis. Both of them have had heart problems: Bob has had a triple bypass surgery and Johnnie had a heart attack. The two aren’t taking any risks, opting to have their three children bring them supplies. The one thing they miss most is going to church.
I wouldn’t be as worried, quite honestly, if I wasn’t pregnant
Kayla Szymosky, Henderson: April 4, 2020
Kayla Szymosky hasn’t left her house in two weeks as she’s pregnant with her first child. She doesn’t know what the coronavirus could do to her pregnancy, so she’s playing it safe. While her birth plan remains the same until her due date in June, Szymosky has had to cancel meaningful events ahead of her son’s birth. Her parents, who live in upstate New York, canceled their trips to Las Vegas and do not know when they will be able to visit their first grandson. “I wouldn’t be as worried, quite honestly, if I wasn’t pregnant,” Szymosky said. “But now that I am, this weird mom instinct takes over, that’s what I’m guessing this is, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I need to be more mindful because of this little guy I’m carrying.’ ”
I feel like now I know that the world is probably never going to be the same again, or at least not for a really long time, and I think I’ve come to terms with that, made some peace with it.
Holly Vaughn and Gabriel Allred, Las Vegas: March 24, 2020
The couple are confined to their home and both without work since nonessential businesses closures began. Holly owns a local wedding chapel, so that income is completely gone. She’s also an Elvis impersonator, but since events are canceled for the foreseeable future, she’s lost that side hustle, too. Gabriel recently left his job at a tech startup. Now they’re working out how they’ll survive the time without money coming into their accounts. “I feel like now I know that the world is probably never going to be the same again, or at least not for a really long time, and I think I’ve come to terms with that, made some peace with it,” Vaughn said.
We’ve got to do something to help our neighbors
Matt Zophiel, Las Vegas: March 25, 2020
Matt Zophiel still has a job as a programmer for a mini-refrigerator company, working from home, and considers life relatively stable for now. His roommate had pneumonia, so he’s self-isolated for the time being. Zophiel’s front yard holds a community pantry. The pantry is filled with donations from community members after Zophiel created a spreadsheet on the NextDoor app to help people in need. “We’ve got to do something to help our neighbors,” he said.
It’s just kind of upsetting, like all I want to do is hang out with my family
Brynn Walsh, Las Vegas: April 24, 2020
Brynn Walsh has been quarantined for six weeks following her return from studying abroad in Scotland. After her sudden flight home, Walsh became ill with a cough and cold symptoms, but no fever. Her doctor diagnosed her with bronchitis and possible pneumonia, opting not to test her for COVID-19. Still, Walsh said she has remained indoors beyond when her symptoms subsided to keep the community safe. “It’s just kind of upsetting, like all I want to do is hang out with my family,” Walsh said. “I’m home. The whole point of being home is to see my people.”
I think it’s a reminder that tomorrow’s never promised and just to live everyday being courteous to one another
Korinna Ramirez, Las Vegas: March 25, 2020
Korinna Ramirez has been self-quarantining since her job as a massage therapist was put on hold, along with all other nonessential businesses in order to limit her exposure to the coronavirus. Her husband has to continue working as an electrician. “I think it’s a reminder that tomorrow’s never promised and just to live everyday being courteous to one another,” Ramirez said.
I guess overall it’s just like hard to follow what is true and what is not true
Vanavia Weatherly, Las Vegas: April 4, 2020
Vanavia Weatherly is a special education teacher at Equipo Academy. She’s teaching from home while caring for her three children. She worries about her students, who depend on stability to grow despite their handicaps. “I guess overall it’s just like hard to follow what is true and what is not true,” Weatherly said. “And something that doesn’t give me a timeline of when can I expect things to go back to normal, when can I take my kids to the park.”
So part of the instructions from Larry’s cancer doctors were to stay isolated and this was even before COVID-19 came about
Larry Hatab and Chelsy Carter, Las Vegas: April 4, 2020
Larry Hatab and Chelsy Carter have been quarantined for more than a month because of underlying health conditions. Hatab recently finished a round of chemotherapy, while Carter has persistent cardiac issues and asthma. The couple moved to Las Vegas with the hope that the desert climate would improve Carter’s lung condition. Now they’re stuck inside to stay healthy. “So part of the instructions from Larry’s cancer doctors were to stay isolated, and this was even before COVID-19 came about,” Carter said. “And then COVID-19 just added an extra layer of caution and danger on top of what was already existing.”
I know that we’re lucky financially, like we’re struggling, but we’re going to be fine and I have a feeling that like the social safety nets that are put in place by the government are going to help us
Thomas and Megan Myers, Las Vegas: April 4, 2020
Megan Myers is a teacher at Equipo Academy, and Thomas Myers works as a carpenter for local conventions. She’s teaching from home while he is out of work, for the time being, and the two have been quarantining since schools and nonessential businesses closed. Because their household is reduced to one income, they’re hoping to be able to keep up with their mortgage. “I know that we’re lucky financially, like we’re struggling, but we’re going to be fine, and I have a feeling that the social safety nets that are put in place by the government are going to help us,” Megan said. “But I do worry for my students’ families. I know a lot of them have parents who are out of work.”